I was caught by surprise when I realized that today was the first Sunday in Advent. For days we have been steeped in the culmination of one season and overnight are hurled into the next, which is, ironically, traditionally a time of waiting. It seems like a very long time since I actually had to wait for Christmas. The older I get the faster it rolls around, more like a freight train coming down the track loaded with all the extra pressures of a cultural phenomenon that we collectively call “the holidays.” Most of us are so busy multi-tasking that we completely miss the gifts of waiting– the expectation, reflection, and the celebration that will come, enhanced by the anticipation.
The Jewish Festival of Lights is observed by lighting candles on the Hanukkah Menorah, commemorating the Jewish revolutionaries’ eight days of waiting in the Temple. The Christian Liturgical calendar prescribes the four weeks before Christmas as a time of reflection while waiting on the coming of the Messiah, the Light of the World. In earlier times when tribal humans roamed the dark and frozen lands of the northern hemisphere, they waited for the return of the sun and with it, the hope for another year’s food supply. What we now experience as holiday gatherings full of feasting and merriment most probably had their origins in our ancestors coming together for warmth and human connection at a time when light and food were scarce, a way to cope with the fear and uncertainty of literally waiting in the dark.
Even though this is an intensely busy time of year in our culture, there is most likely some aspect of waiting in everyone’s life. Children are waiting for Santa Claus or Hanukkah, time off from school, playing in the snow. Families are waiting for the arrival of loved ones from out of town, a service man or woman on leave, or college kids home for break. Some people are waiting to get a job interview, to hear back from a potential employer, or for an unemployment check. There will be those waiting for important lab results, news of an available donor organ, the birth of a baby. Some will be waiting in the cold for a soup kitchen to open for the evening, waiting for a meal and a bed.
At the moment, I am waiting for the paperback edition of ANGEL to be available to all of my readers. I’m told that it’s the busy season in publishing, and delays are to be expected, and indeed there have already been some of those. I’m grateful to those of you who have been asking and anticipating along with me, and I hope to announce it here on this website in just a few days’ time– when ANGEL is here for you to read, enjoy and share–ready and waiting!