Advent Week 1: Waiting with Hope

advent week 1 (2)

It’s been a bad week to be told to wait.

An especially frustrating – even demeaning – time to be told to wait for justice, for the world to be set right, that things will get better, things which are not entirely in our hands to fix, things that can only truly change through some odd and mystical combination of patience and systemic upheaval, accountability and radical forgiveness, quiet and cataclysm.

Waiting with hope is the antithesis of an escapism. Waiting with hope does not mean blithely ignoring or submitting to the status quo, but walking humbly enough to find oneself in the company of those most deeply threatened by it, who have no choice but to wait, because their lives depend on others acting justly. That’s deeply unsettling when you think about it: living at one another’s mercy. We all do it, but it’s a gamble with blatantly rigged odds. Sadly we don’t extend kindness or even the benefit of the doubt with anything resembling equality and no one is under any illusion that we can rectify that overnight. And so we wait, but in the hope that justice will be established, that power will protect the powerless, that the starving will have their fill of good things. We wait with those who wait. “You’re tired. But everyone’s tired./ But no one is tired enough.” So…


Wait, for now.
Distrust everything if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven’t they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become interesting.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again;
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.

Don’t go too early.
You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a little and listen:
music of hair,
music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.

 – Galway Kinnell

from Selected Poems. © Houghton Mifflin, 1983

One thought on “Advent Week 1: Waiting with Hope

  1. Thank you for linking up with Susan and me. I so appreciate the reminder that waiting is often (always?) hard. Sometimes I get frustrated by my own impatience. And waiting is an exercise in patience. I’m learning (oh so slowly) that both require gentleness if they’re to bear fruit. Gentleness with myself, gentleness with others. It’s part of “living at one another’s mercy,” as you so aptly put it.


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