Advent Lessons on Patience from Henri Nouwen

Photo by KaLisa Veer on Unsplash

Millennial Catholic Jonathan Lewis writes:

Waiting can be painful, especially when it feels forced upon us due to COVID-19.

The spiritual writer Father Henri Nouwen speaks into this pandemic moment, pointing out that “increasingly in our society we feel we have less and less influence on the decisions that affect our own existence. Therefore it becomes increasingly important to recognize that the largest part of our existence involves waiting in the sense of being acted upon. The life of Jesus tells us that not being in control is part of the human condition. His vocation and ours are fulfilled not just in action but also in passion, waiting.”

Father Nouwen observes that the spiritual practice of patient waiting is a prerequisite to recognizing and receiving God’s presence….

A spirituality of waiting is not passive; it is active spiritual work to become more attentive to the quiet voice of God….

Mary’s fiat (“may it be done to me according to your word”) in the face of shame and difficulty reveals her radical vulnerability and openness to God. She did not hope in herself or her own predetermined plans and dreams, but trusted in God’s plan that was beyond her vision.

Mary teaches us that a spirituality of waiting is hopeful, daring to see beyond our own imagination….

This Advent, in the midst of suffering in our daily lives, the distractions of Christmas preparations or the mourning of loved ones not gathered around our table, we are called to be people of hope, “living with the conviction that God molds us in love, holds us in tenderness and moves us away from the sources of our fear. Our spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, expecting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination or prediction.”