To wait or to watch

We can only see where we shine the light. jnd_photography/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

To wait is to stare at a loading symbol on your laptop.
To watch is to observe your still hand awaiting inspiration.

To wait is to tap your toes and drum your fingers.
To watch is to realize how they mirror your heartbeat.

To wait is to stand by the microwave as your lunch heats.
To watch is to consider the alchemy of ingredients and preparation.

To wait is to mark the darkening sky from the warm indoors.
To watch is to venture outside and crane your neck to the stars.

To wait is to cross out days on your calendar.
To watch is to look back at a year, a decade, a life, and discover its arc.

To wait is to note what is happening.
To watch is to learn what is.

To wait is to solve by avoiding.
To watch is to address by encountering.

To wait is to welcome impatience.
To watch is to invite patience.

To wait is to prepare your mind.
To watch is to prepare your heart.

To wait is to hesitate.
To watch is to embrace.

Prayer #319: A Waiting Advent, or Awaiting Advent?

Imagine you are driving at night. Imagine you are moving slowly on a winding, pitch-black mountain road. You are waiting for the next bend, and (for obvious, scary, car-crunching reasons) you do not want to miss it.

See the headlights casting their glow in front of you.* You are watching the headlights. They illuminate three feet ahead of you -- nothing further, nothing behind. All you have to get you through the trip on are these lights, and your slowness, and your watching.

Advent is a season to practice watching, the kind that consumes your whole body and spirit. Without it you will not catch the star brighten. Without it you will not glimpse the couple running in the night. Without it you will not hear an infant wail across the sand. Without it you will not know God.

God of the realm beyond the headlights, keep watch with me -- today, tonight, and always.


* With thanks to E.L. Doctorow for the image.