I liked how my pastor reminded me in her Sunday message that Advent and Christmas are all about waiting, not pensively, but patiently.
The way she passionately shared with bubbly exuberance over the coming of Christ, not the first coming, but the second.
The aura and atmosphere in her delivery was as though the long dark hours before Christmas were behind us and the joy of giving and receiving had ensued.
Since it was early December and I was sitting like a bump on a log, listening, wondering from where her spark cometh, I soaked in her inspired words and reminisced my own Christmases waiting.
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
As a child in the 50s, waiting was forever times 100, maybe 200. When Christmas morn finally arrived, I was completely satisfied with my one and only gift, like the baby doll from Santa on my fifth Christmas.
Donning a blue gingham dress, white eyelet bonnet and t-strap patent leather shoes, this doll was a spitting image of a picture I cut out of a Sears and Roebucks catalog, and then tucked into my letter to Old Saint Nick. I carefully placed it alongside milk and cookies I set out.
So delighted and preoccupied with my new baby doll, I could think of little else in the days following Christmas. My waiting was over, I was completely satisfied.
O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.
As I sat listening to Pastor cheer over the purpose and importance of anticipating Christ's return, my waiting, yearning years, flashed before me.
This great period leading to Christmas Day is a microcosm of mankind, a Christ-size emptiness inside that waits to be filled.
I've dragged out the tree, decorated it with any number of ornaments and lights, adorned doors and railings, hung wreaths and stockings. Soon, I will be exchanging gifts.
I realize that the things I do today in preparation for Christmas are all outward signs and rituals, reflections of inward waiting, waiting, waiting.
O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.
Fixed on Pastor's enthusiasm, I am reminded that Advent and Christmas are not about what I have or don't have, what I've done or haven't done, what I've given or haven't given.
No, this holy time is about waiting for something to come, not pensively, but patiently, joyously, peacefully, happily waiting.
O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
As I soaked in her energy flowing like narrow bands of light with clear and certain urgency from where she stood to where I sat, my faith strengthened. My lumbering spirit sent aloft, while my waiting took on an infinite sheen.
O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
Source: Veni Emmanuel, from a 15th Century processional of French Franciscan nuns; arranged by Thomas Helmore in the Hymnal Noted, Part II (London: 1856)
2011 © Copyright Paula Damon.
A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her writing has won first-place in competitions of the National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women. In the 2009, 2010 and 2011 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contests, her columns have earned eight first-place awards. To contact Paula, email boscodamon.paula@gmail, follow her blog at email@example.com and find her on FaceBook.