19 December 2017
Advent is the time of expectant waiting, remembering the time of waiting before the birth of Jesus and that time of waiting in the Bible when people were longing for something that would change everything.
No one likes to wait. The very word suggests a lack or emptiness which is hard to endure. Prayer too, can sometimes feel like an emptiness of waiting for an answer from God. As the anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing says “God is your being and what you are, you are in God”. Union with God is not something to be acquired but realised, God is not absent from us though we are often inclined to feel a distance or absence.
Prayer can seem like asking and waiting for answers, but the waiting can feel less empty if prayer is simply a “being with”, in the same way in which a friendship develops to the point where we do not need to keep talking. If it happens that, the quietude of silent prayer is overwhelmed by the anxieties of the day, then prayer as a “being with” can be just like holding out an empty hand, waiting to be filled with what God has to give.
Brother Roger of Taizé said in his prayer:
“You were in my heart of hearts and I was looking for you elsewhere, when I kept myself far from you, you were waiting for me”.
This reminds us that whilst we seek God’s presence in the lonely places deep within us, God never stops searching for all who have distanced themselves from him.
Advent reminds us how to wait, and prepare ourselves to welcome, by simply and silently “being with” a God who is close, present and dwelling within.