The WORD in Other Words by Fr Simon Boiser SVD (Germany) for 3rd Sunday of Advent
A German sailor narrated to me his travels around the world aboard his yacht, how he braved tumultuous waves and endured extreme discomfort. Sometimes he felt lost and disoriented in the vastness of the oceans, seeing no other human soul for many days and weeks, except his companions. But his constant hope that somewhere beyond the horizon lay an unseen island or another ship, kept him from falling into irrational fear and panic.
Asked if he believed in God, the sailor said, “When you feel the power of nature in the seas and contemplate the vastness of the universe in the skies, it is almost impossible not to think about a powerful Being, who notices and guides you — a tiny insignificant speck floating in the ocean.” In his worldwide travels, he had learned to slow down and allow nature to guide him, “In the oceans, I must adjust and live with the natural time of the tides. I have learned to be patient and focus on what is essential, If you learn how to wait, the best things will come at the right time and the right place.”
As we prepare for Christmas, we are busy attending parties, wrapping gifts, writing cards, decorating our houses. We ignore Advent, which is a preparation time for Christmas. We want to celebrate Christmas immediately before December 25. Some say that Christmas in the Philippines begins in September! So, when Christmas day comes, we do not savor its specialness. If we have not learned to properly wait for a good thing, we can easily miss it.
Who can blame us? We experience today instant messaging on our mobile phones, real time news on TV, fast food on our plates. We want things immediately, right here, right now. We become easily impatient, when people are slow and work is delayed. Even while waiting, we want to be busy and occupied. We do not want to wait for others, although we have no qualms about making others wait for us. We think waiting means boredom and a waste of time. If this is our attitude, how can we spend the season of Advent before Christmas, which is a time of waiting?
Patience is not simply waiting, but having the discipline to hold on until the right moment and the right place. That is why patience requires a strong mind and will, which resists instant gratification. A patient person believes that all good things come to those who wait, that wishes come true in time, that it is more important to go slow and gain the lessons needed along the journey than to rush the process and arrive at the destination empty. Just because the journey takes longer, doesn’t ‘t mean it‘s a failure. Life is not a one-day journey; we must take one step at a time. The sailor told me, “You will arrive at your destination sooner or later. Just be patient and be ready.”