The Gift of Waiting

advent3Now, in this holy season of Advent, the time spent waiting and preparing grows shorter.  But waiting is never easy.  Ask any child or the child in any of us for that matter.  Sometimes the waiting can make us desire the object of our waiting more and even sharpen our focus on that which is the object of our interest and affection.  We all know the adage “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”.  That compulsive aspect of waiting can prompt some to try to distract their attention by shifting the focus to something else.  Filling that emptiness with activity and distraction is likely something we’ve all done.  While that strategy may help pass the time, I’m not so sure that it’s the best use of our time and that gift.  In terms of our spiritual journey, my personal opinion is that the time of waiting is a gift, a grace that should be embraced as an opportunity to experience the longing for God.  The experience of that utter absence sets the stage for our ability to clear the space in our hearts and lives and know so deeply that that space was always meant for him to fill.  Realizing that this longing for God was the greatest gift that God could give me prompted me to pen these words many years ago.  I prayerfully return to them every Advent and I pass them on to you in the hope that they may resonate in your Advent prayer.

When did His favor

first come to rest upon her?

She ponders beginnings-

her memory cannot conjure the time,

the moment,

or extend her remembrance

into His knowing,

to that moment when His choosing

first nurtured her innocence.

She rests knowing

her response was always

His gift first-

that He prepared her in secret

and love her

before her remembering-

that His humility conceived

her freedom.


This poem first appeared in Review for Religious (Nov./Dec.1988)


Susan O’Hara teaches theology for Saint Joseph’s College Online.


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