Braver/Wiser: A Weekly Message of Courage and Compassion

The Waiting Time

By Megan Lloyd Joiner

“Now is the moment of magic, when people beaten down and broken,
with nothing left but misery and candles and their own clear voices,
kindle tiny lights and whisper secret music…”
—Rev. Victoria Safford, “The Moment of Magic

A straw-filled manger in a stable, with the Christmas star in the window

In the Christian calendar, Advent is a time of waiting and preparation for the coming of the Christ child. The story from first century Palestine tells us that with the birth of Jesus comes hope, love, the undoing of the status quo: a new reign of peace on earth.

At this time of year we are invited, as weary people have done since the beginning of time, to “kindle tiny lights and whisper secret music;” to cradle our hopes like newborn children; to wonder what love looks like in practice; to await a new era with patience and preparation.

This year, we might not feel like waiting is the best move. We may cry out in lament for lives and rights taken without account, joining our voices with all who cry for justice and peace. This year, sitting quietly in the midst of chaos might feel close to impossible.

Finding the magic in this season of waiting can be difficult for many of us—not just this year, but any year. For how does one sit quietly when life can be so unkind? What about the times when we wait for word of family in conflict zones, of an injured friend or a dreaded diagnosis; times when we wait for illness to set in or for a child who does not arrive?

In times like these, we might find ourselves wishing that time would pass more quickly to get us to the other side of a nightmare. How do we live in that kind of waiting time?

Advent challenges us not just to wait, but to wait actively: to do the work of preparing hearts and till the soil that awaits seeds of hope and love. Advent encourages us to be present in each moment of waiting.

The “moment of magic”—the time we have been waiting for—is now. Not some future date, not the end of the Advent calendar, not the hour that the days begin to lengthen again, or that long-awaited morning of presents. The mystery, the excitement, the beauty of this season are all found in the waiting time.

And so we wait, allowing ourselves to be fully present to all that is happening in each moment. When we do, we join our lives and our breath and our hearts with all who are waiting: waiting for justice, waiting for peace, waiting for a world reborn.

Prayer

Precious Oneness, Grant us the strength to be still in this waiting time. Grant us the courage to experience the awe of this moment…and the next. Help us to prepare our hearts that seeds of love and hope might root there. And help us to join our deepest desires and intentions with all those waiting and working for justice and peace. Amen and Blessed Be.

About the Author

Megan Lloyd Joiner

Rev. Megan Lloyd Joiner (she/her) lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two daughters and is the Chaplain and Chair of Religious Studies at Woodward Academy. A lifelong UU, Megan is also a board-certified chaplain and a registered compassion-centered spiritual health clinician with Emory...

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