Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Advent Waiting

Originally uploaded by alan(ator)
Since Advent is a season of waiting, and since I hate waiting rooms, long waits and generally have a negative conception of "waiting," I thought I ought to dig a bit deeper in this.

Turns out, "wait" has a wonderfully rich history of definition. Entries on the word span 5 pages in my old OED. The first definition clues me in that something is going on here: "In various phrases with the general sense: To take up a concealed position in order to make an unforeseen attack, or to be in readiness to intercept one's enemy or intended prey in passing; to lurk in ambush."

Perhaps our Advent waiting is more than just killing time until Christmas--delaying the celebration so that we can have had the appropriate (and probably holy) period of restraint.

Maybe the kind of "waiting" that a waiter does is more apt--tending to, preparing for, watching for Christ's coming.

But there are other fabulous definitions of wait. My favorites involve music: first, in 1300, a watchman who would sound an alarm by horn or trumpet. Then, by 1430, a watchman attached to the royal household who would sound the royal trumpets. In 1438, it was used for a small band of wind instrumentalists, kept by a city for festive occasions, often strolling the streets. In 1773, it was used for a band of musicians and singers who would roam the streets near Christmas and the New Year, playing carols and seasonal music (!).

Waiting, in most of the 5 pages of entries, is much more than mere delay. It implies watchfulness and readiness for something big happening. Maybe there's even trumpets.


offbeatpoet said...

I think the angel Gabriel is the one too start the trumpet for the jazz band playing the "saints come marching home" I do not look forward to the big bang of fire and brimstone and the court hearings. I wonder how does one get out of that jury duty.

However, what is to be done while waitng? I used to ask my mom what do we do while waitng. She always said "be in the world but not of the world." I am still trying to figure it out because "Idle hands are the devils playground."

The whole faith and works debate is implied in the waiting. One's works can prevent them from waiting properly. One could miss the conductors que and play on the wrong note.


Anonymous said...

...and to wait and miss the conductors queue would be quite normal as I think we spend a huge portion of our lives waiting for things and events we don't plan on and don't recognize when they happen all around us ... and if we do as suggested, "tend & prepare", then our waiting becomes part of the journey with music and dancing ...

offbeatpoet said...

There is no waiting only doing and the doing is fun so there is no waiting. Therefore,allready living in the kingdom of heaven. I just get depressed and lose the fun because if Jesus would have been accepted in the first place there would be no waiting.

Karen said...

I love trumpets!

karen said...

A different Karen says:

I love the OED!

A member of my congregation, engaging the concept of Advent for the first time, told me after the first Sunday that wait is an action verb!

OED seems to bear that out.

Wishing you continued blessing on your Advent journey in the Virtual Cove and the human community.

Karen Clark Ristine