Perhaps it is the simple fact that I have spent much of the second half of the year 2013 in some sort of state of waiting or expectancy — what is wrong, is the diagnosis correct, should I get the surgery, waiting for the surgery, having the surgery, waiting through recovery — but I just cannot find that waiting and watching spirit that is supposed to be the hallmark of the Advent season.
So today, I’m not going to engage with text from the Lectionary cycle; I’m not going to tackle a text from that lovely Advent calendar I have been using — today I am not going to engage with the text at all. Instead, I want to take a moment with the word, synonymous with the Advent season in so many ways, that seems to be troubling me so right now.
One of the greatest things about studying Biblical Hebrew is finding out the source and use of the words. The verb “wait for” is:
or transliterated, kavah. And while it is usually translated as wait for (you can see its use in the Psalms, for example, Psalm 37:9, or in the prophets, Isaiah 40:31), when you compare it to the other languages in its family, like Assyrian, Arabic and Syriac, you find a very different shade of meaning at its origins (Hebrew being a later version of the Semitic languages). We see here that originally it may have meant twist or stretch, being in tension, like the tension of enduring.
Twisting. Stretching. Enduring. Trying to find your place. Trying to find your calling. Trying to find the next right step. I might just be able to relate to that meaning of the word wait.
And so I am going to remember the very beautiful words written by a very beautiful friend and preserved for me by another very beautiful friend and see if I can find just a little bit of that sense of wonder and waiting that is usually so strong in me.
And today, I will offer to all of us (and most especially to myself) the words of the text of the day on that Advent calendar as a prayer for today and tomorrow and all the tomorrows:
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus. Romans 15:4-5