Waiting in the Dark

Photo via Flickr user Alexander Boden
Photo via Flickr user Alexander Boden

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. –John 1: 1-5

It is Advent. It is cold and dark.

We Minnesotans are a people who understand true darkness and cold. Every year we hunker down, turning inward, sure that the darkness will prevail. Then, our pupils adjust ever so slightly. We find our Smartwool, dust off the teakettle and light candles. We snuggle by the fire. In Advent, we remember that there is a baby on his way. Hope breaks through the cold. Light prevails. Jesus, the light of the world will draw near. We can almost hear his heartbeat in this sacred time of waiting.

Violence in Paris, Minneapolis, Colorado Springs. The darkness is all around us. We get this Advent thing. We’re living it.

When the light goes out, our instinct is to rush to turn it back on again, to get comfortable, to go back to normal. In Advent, we sit in the darkness. We acknowledge it. We wait for our eyes to adjust, and we realize there is enough light in the darkness with which to work.

This waiting in the darkness is not passive. It’s active waiting. It’s, as Nouwen points out, becoming more present in this dark and cold time and place.

Patience is not waiting passively until someone else does something. Patience asks us to live the moment to the fullest, to be completely present to the moment, to taste the here and now, to be where we are. When we are impatient, we try to get away from where we are. We behave as if the real thing will happen tomorrow, later, and somewhere else. Be patient and trust that the treasure you are looking for is hidden in the ground on which you stand. –Henri J.M. Nouwen

Published by Ellie Roscher

Ellie Roscher is the author of How Coffee Saved My Life, and Other Stories of Stumbling to Grace. She holds a master’s degree in Theology/Urban Ministry from Luther Seminary and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction writing at Sarah Lawrence College.

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