Over the next few weeks, a few of us here at A Rocha will be posting a series of short meditations on waiting in God’s creation as we prepare for the celebration of Christmas.
By Bethany Winz
I can’t think about Advent and waiting without thinking about the twenty waiting rooms I’ve sat in over the past two years. Labs, doctors’ offices, imaging facilities—most of them sharing the same uncomfortable chairs, outdated and irrelevant magazines, and close proximity to strangers and their ailments.
I’ve waited for doctors and tests and results and prescriptions and diagnoses, but really I’ve been waiting for someone to give me an answer. Instead, I’ve ended up in a cycle of trial and error as we try to figure out what might relieve my symptoms. It’s long and slow and messy, and on some days I feel like I’m wasting my life with all this waiting.
Advent reminds me, however, is that waiting is not passive.
The people of Israel waited for a savior, but while they waited, they lived. Sometimes they lived well, other times they didn’t, but they lived. They cultivated the land and cooked meals and sat around the table together and built homes and stables and cities. They marked the births and marriages and deaths of their communities, feasting and fasting in turn, all while waiting for the Messiah they knew would change everything.
Chronic illness often tempts me to throw my hands up and do nothing. It’s hard to believe that there is value in taking care of my body—living well, eating well, sleeping well—when those things don’t yield the results I’m looking for. I want solutions, not the messy in-between of symptoms that don’t respond to any treatment, conventional, functional, or otherwise.
It’s not just my health, though, that makes me impatient. Generally, if I can’t fix something, I sit back and tell myself that there isn’t any point in trying. In the grand scheme of things, I struggle to believe that my actions matter. This is especially true for me in conservation work because the need is overwhelming. The problems are not simple, and neither are the answers. But not being able to do everything isn’t an excuse to do nothing.
This reminds me of the song “Beauty in the Trying” from Together in the Harvest.
There is beauty in the trying, there is blessing in the work
There is life there in the dying, it is rising from the earth
God has promised to make all things new, and God is already making all things new, and God has invited us into that work. Like the people of Israel, we are to wait expectantly for the fullness of new creation. And, like the people of Israel, we are to live well in light of what we know is coming.
The food we eat, how we handle our waste, how far and frequently we drive, what we plant in our gardens, the scientific projects we invest in, the goods we choose to buy and not buy—all of it matters. It matters now, and it matters in eternity. Even if we don’t get the immediate results we might want, conservation work is important for us because the earth is important to God.
Whether we transform our world, our nation, our city, our neighborhood, our backyard, or our own hearts, there is value in doing something. By taking action, we are putting our hand to the plow and joining the God who is making all things new—even us.
Bethany Winz is currently an intern for Nashville A Rocha.