At 39 and a half weeks pregnant I feel as though my life has become something of a waiting game.
Waiting for this baby to come, waiting for our whole world to flip upside-down, waiting for a change that I can't really imagine.
It strikes me that this is actually meant to be a season of waiting, this advent season. There is the lighting of the advent candles at church each week. And each week we sing "O come, O Come Emmanuel".
I have tried encouraging this little baby inside me along similar lines.
But in general the Christmas season has rarely seemed to me to be much of a season for waiting. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is impossibly short. Too short for getting the holiday decorations out ahead of time; I'm lucky if we have a tree up on the 24th. And by that I mean a NY apartment size Christmas tree, that most of you would probably laugh at. Too short for all the meaningful holiday gifts I plan to find, leading to last minute trips to big box stores which I despise. The lighting of the advent candles each week seem to generally provoke in me a reaction of "Oh, no, we're that close to Christmas already? But I'm not ready!"
I am not ready for Christmas this year either, but at least I have got the spirit of waiting down this time. I know that I am impossibly ill-prepared for the baby's arrival (don't ask about a name) but I've given up the frantic rushing around, in the knowledge that nothing I do will adequately prepare me. So, I'm just waiting. And we'll see how it goes.
Perhaps I should surrender to this spirit of waiting at every Christmas as well. Surely Christmas isn't really about having all the decorations in place. After all, Christmas is the celebration of a king born in a stable. I'm pretty sure Mary had different plans for that birth, plans that didn't quite work out. It is about surrender to something that is in fact beyond us.
The Congolese people are also waiting right now. They cast their votes last week for President. And now the votes are being counted. Results were promised on Tuesday, but have yet to come. And in Congo, it is truly a spirit of waiting. I ask my Congolese friends how things are in Goma and they respond "tunangoja tu" (we're only waiting) The SHONA women have piled up two cartons of SHONA products that are ready to ship, but no one is ready to ship them. The guy in charge of getting our cartons on a plane out of Goma, says there are no planes right now. "You have to wait until we see what happens with the elections," he says.
There is a great fear that when election results are announced, the losing sides will take to the streets. There have already been promises along those lines.
I guess waiting can come in many forms, both good and bad. So as I sit here today, looking out at the people rushing past my window, bundled in coats and headed off into a busy world, I will enjoy this time of waiting. For me, it is the privilege of waiting for this little one's arrival. No matter how much I worry that I am not nearly prepared, I know her arrival is a blessing.
For the people of Congo, I wish I could say the same. They wait for news that their country will somehow manage to hold together. Or news, that it won't. They wait for peace which has proved elusive for far too long, and yet which is hard to imagine to this day.
In this season of waiting, it is perhaps important to remember all that we have. And all that the rest of the world continues to wait for.