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'Tis the season to wait

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"Wait for me!" Our 4-year-old runs after his big brothers, coat flapping and boots thumping. As I watch the kids race through the yard, his words echo memories of Decembers past when I waited for a new baby.

"Wait for me this time," each one seemed to whisper as I prayed through pregnancy. "Wait for me."

Families begin with waiting. For those who have experienced infertility or miscarriage, waiting can be one of the most painful parts of life. But through pregnancy, adoption or foster parenting, whether babies were unexpected or long-hoped-for, every parent has waited for their child to arrive.

What's more, birth is only the beginning of our waiting.

We wait for kids to reach milestones or to get ready each morning. We wait to see the doctor or to get test results. We wait to pick them up from school or sports practice. We wait to hear if they made the team or got the job. We wait for kids to leave the nest, and then we wait for them to return.

Families are waiting for each other all the time — and not just for toddlers to potty train, teenagers to come home by curfew or adult children to call back and check in. We're waiting for longer, slower movements of change to come, too.

Waiting for healing. Or forgiveness. Or acceptance.

This Advent, what if we tried to anticipate Christ's coming like expectant parents? Eager with excitement. Preparing for joy to arrive. Imagining each day what the next might bring.

Waiting trains our hearts, tempers our impatience and teaches us to savor what is good because it took longer to get there. Anything wonderful — most of all, the coming of our God among us in the Incarnation — is worth waiting for.

So how can we wait this Advent, especially in a consumerist culture where anything can be bought with one click and Christmas has been on sale since September?

The Letter of James speaks to waiting — the everyday and the ultimate — as preparation for what is to come:

"Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be patient. Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand" (Jas 5:7-8).

In Advent we prepare for the coming of Christ, as solemn purples inside our parishes stand in contrast to Christmas colors already splashed across the stores. But our sacred practice of preparation also reminds us how waiting takes up a huge part of living — and how God meets us each time in our waiting.

Amid this December's supply chain delays, crowded checkout lines and calendars crunched with extra to-do's, we have plenty of opportunities to practice waiting. If we grow impatient in this season of preparation, we can turn to the children among us to remember how to wait in hope.

Our children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews for whom we once waited with great joy give us a taste of Advent in our own families. They count down to Christmas with eager anticipation, knowing the delights that await. They ask us to wait for them and their needs all year long.

Waiting starts with slowing down, becoming mindful of God's presence in each moment. Only if we prepare to receive the Christ Child will we notice each day's opportunities to open our hearts to his love.

Wait for me, he calls to us, now and always. Wait for me.

Fanucci is a writer, speaker, and author of several books including "Everyday Sacrament: The Messy Grace of Parenting." Her work can be found at laurakellyfanucci.com.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021