Thursday, December 1, 2011

Waiting and expectancy

The following passage is from WAITING IN HOPE, an article by Elizabeth Ruth Obbard, a Carmelite sister who lives as a solitary at the Carmelite friary at Aylesford, Kent. She is the author of numerous books including Every Pilgrim's Guide to Walsingham. The entire article is HERE.

We all need times of waiting and expectancy in our lives in order to savour the joy of fulfilment. We need to live with the night and darkness before we can appreciate the coming of dawn. And this is written into nature if only we have eyes to see and hearts attentive to life's mysteries. The expectant mother must wait nine long months before she sees the face of her child. The seed must be buried and broken open in the dark earth before it can emerge into the light of day as a new green shoot. A project needs to mature from the stage of being a mere idea hidden in someone's mind to finding practical expression in reality.

We all have times of Advent in our own lives, just as in the liturgical season of Advent we remember the waiting of Israel through the ages, and the waiting of Mary as she carries her child in her womb. We are sure she will bring him forth once again on Christmas day for our contemplation, and we are ready to relive once again the story of the shepherds and the birth at Bethlehem. It is all so familiar and yet all so new each time Christmas comes round. And every year we are invited to reach a more profound depth in our own lives as we contemplate the birth of the Son of God among us.

The Carmelite writers love to dwell on the fact that we must wait until God's time for fulfilment. It cannot be rushed. We cannot wrest from God in a moment what God desires that we wait for. This is so that we realise that all is gift, 'all is grace' (St. Thérèse).

This cycle of waiting and birthing is not just a past incident in the life of a Jewish maiden who lived long ago in far away Palestine. It is a story that is re-lived in our contemporary world whenever a child is conceived, whenever there is a cry of joy at a long awaited birth, whenever there is a longing for liberation from tyranny, whenever there is a gleam of hope and a striving for something beyond the obvious and immediate. And it happens whenever we ourselves rise to the challenge to bear Christ in our own flesh and offer him to our contemporary world; whenever we become, with Mary, Christ-bearers and Christ-sharers.


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