Patience can be in short supply at this time of year, when everyone is too busy. Technology has speeded up our lives to the point that we notice when our internet connection is sluggish or the person in front of us in the grocery checkout has too many coupons. We don’t even know why we’re in such a hurry. We’ve begun to value speed for its own sake. And yet the things that really matter in life still take time and patience. We can’t speed up the growth of plants or animals or babies. We can’t speed up the time time it takes for healing, whether it’s our bodies or our spirits. And all these things are well worth the wait. Instead of hurrying, we need to find ways to nurture ourselves and one another during the waiting time. The refrain of Advent is “The Lord is near.” Sometimes it’s hard to believe this. We don’t get the answers we want when we pray, or at least we don’t get them immediately. This season can help us wrestle with the waiting time. While we wait for the perfection of the world in the second coming of Christ, we have the mystery of the Incarnation to guide us in making our world a little more ready. We can appreciate the small signs along the way to that perfect time and place. People of earlier generations were far more aware of the slow growth of nature. We can learn a valuable lesson in patience from observing the small signs of growth. Take a walk today and notice not the bare branches of the trees but the terminal buds that signal next spring’s leaves.
— from the book Simple Gifts: Daily Reflections for Advent by Diane M. Houdek