Everything is Different This Time

In recent years I’ve found solace in the Church calendar. The rhythms of Lent, Ordinary Time, and Advent orient my soul to a cycle of renewal each year. It keeps my focus on the bigger picture, the collective experience rather than a self-centered view of the world. 

I thought I understood Advent until this year occurred. I grasped it in theory prior to 2020, but this year the idea of waiting took on a whole new meaning. I yearn for things to be restored, for new to arrive. I feel like we went from Lent straight into Advent. I’ve spent the better part of eight months in a state of waiting, a state of uncertainty, a state of wondering when things will change. 

Yes, I’ve found bright and encouraging moments over these months of distancing…but it doesn’t negate all of the hard, often painful things we’re enduring. 

I can count on one hand the number of hugs I’ve had in eight months. 

My sister is growing a human inside her…and my experience of this process is relegated to images on a screen. I’ll never get to put my hand on her belly and feel my nephew kick. 

I watch from a distance as my loved one battles a debilitating disease…and I can’t sit at her bedside to hold her hand. I can’t be with her in the moments when she needs someone to encourage her to fight. 

I can’t spend extended time with Mom. I have to consult weather reports and figure out distancing logistics just for us to spend a few minutes together. 

None of this is fair. We didn’t ask for this. But we take steps now because we are anticipating a change in the future. We have faith that a vaccine, an antidote, is on the horizon. 

These months feel like an eternity…

Imagine waiting centuries for a break in the silence, a break in the waiting. The waiting became a way of life. Generations of waiting. I cannot fathom such a concept. 

I yearn for a change, for a break of light on the horizon. Advent is no longer theoretical for us. It’s not just symbolism and remembrance. It’s reality. The whole world is in the midst of a type of Advent right now. 

May we carry the experience of this year with us – to remember the uncertainty and frustration of what it’s like to truly wait for something.