Waiting, waiting, waiting…


The North Sea at the edge of dawn…

The Coming
By: R.S. Thomas
And God held in his hand
A small globe. Look, he said.
The son looked. Far off,
As through water, he saw
A scorched land of fierce
Colour. The light burned
There; crusted buildings
Cast their shadows; a bright
Serpent, a river
Uncoiled itself, radiant
With slime.
                 On a bare
Hill a bare tree saddened
The sky. Many people
Held out their thin arms
To it, as though waiting
For a vanished April
To return to its crossed 
Boughs. The son watched
Them. Let me go there, he said.

So much of this old life is waiting.

Waiting for dinner at a restaurant.

Waiting for books to arrive in the mail from Amazon.

Waiting for Christmas break.

We all have our own waiting identities.

The expecting mother, filled up with life, waiting to hold her baby in her arms.

The patient dreamer, with all the bittersweetness of a vision of what life could be, waiting for the open door, or window, to a full life.

The sufferer, waiting for the day when breathing will not be such a burden, and when wrong shall not be called right.

We wait to receive good things…

A lover that sees and knows who you are at the deep down, barrel scratching bottom, and still says “yes. It’s you I want.”

The job where what your great love meets the world’s great need.

The adventure you’ve always longed for.

We wait for the bad things to end…

You wait for the day that breathing doesn’t seem like a difficult task, when every moment isn’t coloured by the sorrow you bear.

We wait for injustice to end, for violent men to be struck down, for the poor and helpless to be vindicated.

We wait for healing, for the day sickness and cancer will no longer rule the roost, when sickness doesn’t steal from us anymore.

We wait and wait and wait and wait. 

And we long for all these things.

Sometimes all of life feels like waiting.

Advent is all about waiting. 

Advent is the time of year set aside by the church for longing. It is when we reflect on all that we wish were true and good in the world. Echoing the words of the prophets, we articulate our desperate desire for God to intervene in the seeming chaos, to make it right and to make us right. We tremble a little when we think of what it might mean for us to be made right. Advent is a time when it is right to say “the world isn’t as it should be, and I long for God to make it right.”

I need advent this year. 

It’s been such a full year. So much good. So many waited for things have happened. And yet there’s still aches. And the world is still not right. Sometimes I am washed with a sense that the world is more full of weeping, and yet of generous jubilation, than we can ever understand. All of it, the good and the bad, fills me with a longing for the final goodness, for all that is wrong to be made right, for all that is good to be made full. St Paul said it well…

For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. (Romans 8:22).

We are told, in this season, to sit with our longings, to look at them, and to offer them to God. When we do this, we find at the bottom of all our longings and desires for things to be put right a source. And our faith tells us that this source came, miraculously, absurdly, to our little world to make full all these longings inside us. The God of the stars and the sea and of DNA came wailing out as a baby, wrapping himself in this funny skin of ours. He assumed all that he could heal all. What a strange miracle it is.

And so I need advent.

The church needs advent.

The world needs advent.

I pray for you, as I pray for myself, that this season will be one in which God meets you in your longings. And I pray that our hearts will be prepared for Christ’s coming, that great fulfilment of all the good aches in our hearts.



PS: If you’re looking for advent devotionals, I highly recommend Biola’s Advent Project. Each day they upload a new reading, reflection, piece of art and music. It will fill your soul. It surely does mine.


5 thoughts on “Waiting, waiting, waiting…

  1. This was such a beautiful post, and how I needed to hear this message and be reminded of this truth tonight. Thank you for sharing this!

    May your Advent be a time of peace and beauty.

  2. I’m doing Advent this year for the first time. I have a book by Anne Voskamp that’s all about Advent! I believe it was written for children, but really, anybody can read it. It’s called Unwrapping The Greatest Gift.

  3. Joy, thank you for sharing this. This resonates so deeply with me. I love the arrival of Christmas each year, it’s something I wait for all year, and it’s a small reminder of the promise that one day the waiting will be over! Just like every sunrise, every winter that turns to spring, every Easter, every small resurrection, is also a reminder of the promise.

  4. Waiting. Longing. Aching. Advent words to be sure – the ones felt in faith-filled semi-darkness.

    Also mercifully, these weeks give us new words too. Hope. Love. Joy. Peace. And on Christmas Eve – Light.

    I am joining you in praying “that our hearts will be prepared for Christ’s coming, that great fulfilment of all the good aches in our hearts.”

    Also, Joy – thank you for the link to Biola’s Advent Project. As I mentioned previously, this has been a year of a big loss, and as it happens, my grown children are both away for the first time this Advent. We have celebrated the season together since they were tiny but I was finding it hard to enter those same traditions alone, so I am finding this something new to reflect on, a gift.

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