by Tim Muldoon
Advent is the season when we remind ourselves of what we are waiting for, keeping at bay the voices which tell us that our waiting is fruitless.
In one of the texts from the Office of Readings for Advent, St. Ephrem writes:
Keep watch; when the body is asleep nature takes control of us, and what is done is not done by our will but by force, by the impulse of nature. When deep listlessness takes possession of the soul, for example, faint-heartedness or melancholy, the enemy overpowers it and makes it do what it does not will. The force of nature, the enemy of the soul, is in control. (Commentary on the Diatesseron)
It is true: when we lose faith in our waiting, an immediate object of desire can distract us from the great calling to follow Christ. Advent is the season of insistence: he has come, and he is coming again. Let us recognize that listlessness, desolation, faint-heartedness are temporary, and that there will re-emerge the great desire to follow so great a king as our Christ. For every desolation, there is consolation. After every consolation, there will be desolation. But all our consolations and all our desolations are but turns in the path that leads us to our king. See that the hints of his coming are already around us: there is the gentle love of a mother for her child; there is compassion that an impoverished man shows toward one who is trying to help him. The tugs of our desire already point us toward his coming; it will not be long. As surely as love unfolds in freedom, so surely is he coming. Let us rise and meet him along the way.