Advent is not only about hoping…it is also about waiting for hope’s fulfilment. Our culture seems to have little patience with what cannot be immediately grasped. This is old news and the weary litany is far too familiar; charge cards, cheap ugly buildings, drive through churches, drug abuse, sex as sport and countless other flash fires of immature desires terrified by limits. The awful irony is that desire has no limits and was not originally intended to. I have fallen into the trap many times. I possess a terrible hunger in the depth of my being and the endurance of that hunger scandalizes my humanity. I am convinced, on some primal level, that it would not only make me feel better to be filled but that it is also somehow my right. This is only partly true and, in its fractured state, is very dangerous. It takes a question to establish some perspective; filled with what? In the starving delirium induced by unfulfilled desires I might hastily fill myself with many things.
A hitch hiker begins a journey. He is impatient to reach his destination and filled with the pleasant anticipation of journey’s end. The day seems to be lucky as he is picked up very quickly and taken many miles. While sitting in someone else’s car he watches the world fly by and rejoices in the fulfilment of his purpose. That particular ride comes to an end all too soon and he is dropped off in a desolate spot of unfriendly faces and little traffic. He begins to wait. At first the waiting is agreeable. It soon becomes an ordeal as he begins to endure an assault upon his fragile hope. The sun is too hot and his view is taken up by the uncompromising dreariness of shimmering asphalt. His social isolation under the hard sky awakens a gnawing loneliness and he becomes weak with a hunger he can’t name. He tries to understand the origin of his suffering and begins to silently curse the drivers who look away from him. His heart, far from being empty, is filled with violence and misery.
Waiting is an uncompromising companion and her company is difficult to accept. Is it possible to cherish such a tenacious embrace? Her conversation tends toward subtlety but her faithfulness is beyond reproach. She is not unsympathetic though she can be very demanding. Above all, she is honest. Waiting, when she is feeling sociable, travels with a companion named Discernment who is also rather serious in temperament, but not quite so taciturn. Together they patiently reveal a truth all the more startling in that it comes from such a prosaic pair. Desire, they insist, is Holy. Deeply felt desire is the perpetual reminder of what it really means to be human. It represents a memory so ancient it exists on the outer perimeter of articulation. Desire remembers a time when we were not hungry and weeps. Waiting stands ready, with clear eyes and a steady heart, to take the tear- blinded traveller firmly by the hand. She assures him that he is not alone. She understands, when he is consumed by doubt, where it is he wants to go, and she promises to remain with him until, at last, he arrives. TJH