"Always on the go"

Lay Reader, December 1997

It’s surprising how things turn out for us, often in ways we would not have anticipated. For example, I have been employed by Mencap as a Support Worker for nearly two years and though I had considered this type of work before, I never really imagined that I would get round to doing it. It is rewarding and fulfilling work and some lovely relationships have been formed.

One observation I have made in my work is how highly routine figures in the lives of some clients. One older lady is continually looking forward to important landmarks through the year; at the moment it happens somewhat predictably to be Christmas, then it will be Easter, her birthday, holiday, Goose Fair, Bonfire Night, and then Christmas again. She has a great need to look forward, almost a dependency on anticipation! It is good that we have things to look forward to, but I fear there can be pitfalls if we come to rely on them.

My client is not the only one anticipating Christmas. I write this on 20th November and find myself reflecting on this tendency to "anticipate" because just an hour ago a tap on my front door proved to be an invitation to listen to "We wish you a merry Christmas" from the first caroller of this year… or was he? The festive lights in the city centre seem to have been switched on earlier this year and no doubt with some ceremony and yes… carols. Surely the neighbouring stores need little excuse to pipe their own carols to shoppers to swell their sales at this important time of year?

If I sound cynical its because such anticipation with all the frenetic preparation for Christmas it breeds robs us of a proper observance of Advent, a season which itself speaks so powerfully of anticipation and expectation as our attention is directed to Christ and His coming Kingdom of truth and justice, righteousness and peace.

But that is the future, which we and all creation long for eagerly. Till then we are set firmly in time and the present moment. I fear that our tendency to look forward, to anticipate, can damage our appreciation and understanding of the present time. So many claim that time goes too quickly, others cry that there is not enough time. I can’t help but think that that is in some part due to the fact that we don’t allow ourselves enough time to appreciate and enjoy the present.

Maybe Advent will allow us a chance to practice the art of appreciating the present moment more than we do, whilst we busy ourselves planning for the future - racing to meet deadlines, longing for pay day, and yearning for that holiday. Being still and appreciating the "nowness" of life is a marvellous experience and one through which the Advent God who is "coming" actually comes to us to reveal Himself to us.

O God, you have revealed yourself to us as truth and beauty. Forgive us for the rude and careless haste of life which disregards the wonder of your gift through which you reveal yourself to us. Grant us moments when we may look on the loveliness of your nature and so looking upon this may begin to learn what your unveiled splendour must be, your formless beauty of which all beauty of form is but a shadow.
Adapted from Gerald Heard

Andrew Wallis

St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 28th November 1997