Perched on my windowsill, a very expectant Mary faces the east. So ripe with child, her belly button protrudes underneath the flowing deep blue and white garments. Her left hand, placed beneath the bulge, gently caresses the babe inside. Mary exhibits a calm joy while expecting the birth of her baby; her smile reveals a delight in each kick, hiccup or stretch felt in the womb. The God of all creation grows, tucked safely under her heartbeat. Mary waits. Trusting in God’s timing. Patient for God’s will.
Once again, this Sunday’s Gospel features the fiery prophet John the Baptist. As the last of the great prophets, we know we’re almost there — the coming of our Savior! We are on the cusp of something new for all people of all times: “We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now” (Rom 8:22). The prophets foretold. Mary believed. God, through the virgin, becomes man, given for us and our salvation. On this, the third Sunday of Advent, the waiting can be painful, especially for little ones. But Mary and Joseph are almost to Bethlehem as the donkey bears this mother and babe.
We spend the Advent season waiting to celebrate our Savior. Waiting — with expectant patience — may be the single greatest act of faith. Henri Nouwen writes of waiting: “A waiting person is a patient person. … Patient living means to live actively in the present and wait there. Waiting, then, is not passive. It involves nurturing the moment, as a mother nurtures the child that is growing in her womb. Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Simeon, and Anna were present to the moment. That is why they could hear the angel. They were alert, attentive to the voice that spoke to them and said, ‘Do not be afraid. Something is happening to you. Pay attention.’” It takes faith — with a strong, brave, firm heart — to wait and to anticipate the activity of God.
Pay attention in each act of waiting. Be patient at a stoplight and say a prayer. Be patient for an opportunity and give your all in the present moment. Be patient for Christmas and serve the poor and the outcast. A caregiver, young, beautiful and round with an unborn child, pauses often — between bathing and dressing patients — to rub her baby in utero. She smiles as she waits, patient although her stance and the sway in her lower back reveal the heaviness in her womb.
As parents/grandparents, we name grace — God’s expectant presence — each time we faithfully, prayerfully and patiently wait for his will. We teach our children to be patient when waiting for results, watching a garden grow, preparing for a test or doing chores by reminding them that all good things take time. We invite them to spend time in the quiet during the season of Advent — to wait before we celebrate.
Each morning, I open the shade, greet the day and speak to Our Blessed Mother. Mary, what do you expect today? How did you remain so patient when traveling to Bethlehem? When there was no place at the inn? When you stood at the cross? Mary, please wait with us in faithful expectation of the coming of your Son. Until then, we will receive your babe — our Lord — in the Eucharist. Now, that’s good news!
How will you help your child grow in patience this Advent?
What does Mary teach us about waiting?
Naming Grace in the Domestic Church reflects on Scripture through the lens of a parent/grandparent. To read more reflections or to connect with Mary Pedersen: www.marypedersen.com.