Sunday, December 12, 2010

Advent Reflections: Learning Patience

Leaping into the Christmas spirit ... sometimes even before the Thanksgiving meal ... robs the soul of Advent, the season of waiting. This is a particularly appropriate time for those of us who take care of people with schizophrenia and other disabilities. We are learning patience the hard way.

Wikipedia says patience is studied as a "decision-making problem," both in evolutionary psychology and cognitive neuroscience.  Do you get your small reward in a short time or hold on to get your bigger reward after a longer time? To me, patience is what you develop when there may not be any  reward at all. At least in this lifetime.

If you believe, as I do, that the purpose of suffering is to make you more like Christ ... then you look at the lessons of waiting in this Advent for signposts of how to grow. Clearly my tendencies to sarcasm and snarky remarks are not part of the improvement plan. I am not at my best in Advent.

One of my Advent books is "Living in Joyful Hope" by Suzanne M. Lewis. She remind us early on in her wonderful meditations that Advent began when God was "not confined by limited possibility" and sent an angel to speak with an impoverished young woman in backwoods town.  The angel's message was of a miracle that would involve, in the end, terrible suffering.

We don't know why things happen. We don't know why some people get well, sometimes miraculously, and others do not.  We do know, as I am frequently reminded in my prayers, that not one single prayer, not one act of love, goes wasted. This Advent, again, we are waiting.

And the miracles do come. We were nearly killed last night when my husband pulled out of the church parking lot in front of an oncoming car. I'm still not sure how the car missed us. And a message that a healing would take place turned out to be for my husband and me, rather than for our children. Much appreciated, but I still want the children healed.

So we are waiting.  In joyful hope, as much as possible.

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