Beginning of Advent... keeping vigil

by Rose Marie Berger

This Sunday begins the season of Advent. It is when we reset the clock of our liturgical life. Every sinew and bone becomes attuned to the One who is to come. The word of the season is: wait. "Be patient, kindred, and wait upon the coming of the Lord, like the farmer waits for the earth's precious fruits, waiting on the rain early and late" (James 5:7).

In Bosnia there is a Franciscan brother who lives alone in his bombed-out monastery. He is alone. The village is still too frightened to return. He is surrounded by unexploded mines. There has been a Franciscan presence in that place for more than 500 years. He will not leave. He keeps vigil. He waits.

In Washington, D.C. there is a 50-year-old woman who has applied for a federally subsidized apartment. She has never had a room of her own. She's lived with family members, in abandoned buildings, in shelters her whole life. She wants this apartment more than she has ever wanted anything. She is persistent. Determined. She waits.

In a refugee camp in Pakistan a woman and young boy stand in line for many hours holding a used plastic gasoline jug. The line is for water. Her husband stands in a longer line for several days for transit papers. They won't leave. They have nowhere else to go. They wait.

Advent is the season of the "O Antiphons," when the church sings its longing and praise. We sing the names of the One to come from Isaiah. O Bright Morning Star...O Emmanuel...O Shoot from the Stump of Jesse...O Key to David's Gate. This is the season for making room for joy. Sometimes this requires razing the fascist architecture of our lives, burning it down like a refiner's fire. In Advent we are waiting to be changed and the change will be more devastating and more joyous than we can ever imagine. In Advent we till the soil of our hearts. We prepare. We tend. We wait.

Source: 2001 (c) SojoNet

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