I’m a writer and I do quite well with topics I can research, explorations that require interviews, reading and studying. Topics that require introspection wig me out. That’s something I can do for myself but hell no, not for an audience. And so I sit here and wait to be inspired with a waiting story I can share.
So stage fright is one hurdle. Another is the fact that I seriously doubt I have anything helpful to say about Advent, nothing worthy of the Glenn blog. Until I started working on this, I only knew Advent as a religious abstraction, something to do with the days before Christmas. I can offer only naive and immature observations to this audience of theologians and life-long church-goers. My experience of the days before Christmas is always just wanting things to slow down. Waiting for Christmas is a new concept for me – it implies an abundance of time between the present and the impending event. The simile “slow as Christmas” is a quaint notion from childhood. Christmas seems to come more quickly every year. I do appreciate the slowing down that must happen for me to shift to the notion of waiting, to consider what that means.
So I’ve been waiting for inspiration for a week now, and the deadline cometh. One small thing about waiting: it keeps you vigilant, open and aware. The notion of “waiting”, even just use of the word by writers of the things I’ve read in the last week jumps out at me as I wait for inspiration. I notice the word in an article about neuroscience and the default network, a region of the brain that lights up on the MRI as research subjects wait for the experiment to begin. It activates when people are daydreaming, woolgathering, recollecting and imaging the future and is a critical element in our ability to put together old ideas in new ways and find creative solutions.
C.S. Lewis remarks in Mere Christianity about the importance of waiting and not camping in the central hall of Christianity, his metaphor for the place one waits between the time he or she has come to Christian faith and when this person finds the church that’s right for them:
“It is in the rooms [or denominations], not the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in. For that purpose the worst of the rooms (whichever that may be) is, I think preferable. It is true that some people may find they have to wait in the hall for a considerable time, while others feel certain almost at once which door they must knock at. I do not know why there is this difference, but I am sure God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait. When you do get into the room you will find that the long wait has done some kind of good which you would not have had otherwise. But you must regard it as waiting, not as camping.”
Waiting…my own waiting? I do remember a horrendous thirty minutes spent waiting in the fetal position on the floor of the Piedmont Hospital ER as a jagged kidney stone clawed at my insides. And there was the time I waited – a long time – years and years without knowing what I was waiting for, without any faith that there was something in my future worth waiting for.
Finding a mate and having a child has put much of that lost feeling to rest. That waiting probably prepared me to appreciate what I have now, quiet and common as it is, to be a wife and mother.
As I drifted off to sleep last night, I clearly heard an old man’s voice, “Why do you make me wait?” It’s the line cried out by Loretta’s grandfather in the movie Moonstruck as he waits for the small pack of domesticated dogs he walks every night to howl at the full moon. The movie takes place in the weeks before Christmas.
So the inspiration, or at least what I thought it would look like - or wanted it to look like - has yet to come, but Advent means more to me now – and we still have weeks until Christmas!
I’ll keep waiting.