in baseball, i love the moments before a pitch is thrown. each pitcher has his own unique routine to prepare for the pitch. he might kick the dirt around the mound, rub the ball hard a few times, adjust his cap, find his spot on the mound, settle in while looking for the signal from the catcher, stare down the batter, spit, nodding yes or no to the catcher while bent over, straightening up, looking around at the bases, twirling the ball in his hand to find the right seam, going into his stretch or wind up and then… the pitch.
those moments after he finds his spot on the mound are filled with anticipation and baseball drama. in those few seconds, my heart beats a little faster in the waiting for the pitch because anything can happen. something can happen that i have never seen before. i am still waiting to see (live) an inside the park home run or a no-hitter– never mind a perfect game! what adds to baseball’s greatness is that there is no clock. the game is not over until that last out in the ninth inning. the end only comes pitch after pitch. the game ends at its own right time.
what adds to the beauty of baseball is this anticipatory waiting before the pitch. anticipatory waiting. in a way, it is routine in that we have seen it a thousand times before. but what makes that anticipatory waiting special is the possibility of something new– even wonderously awesome.
for me, anticipatory waiting is what makes the liturgical season of advent special. being on guard, staying awake, watching are all part of the first week of advent and spirit of the season. the Spirit will do something new in our lives but we must stay vigilant. but will we be attentive enough to see with faith’s eyes?
in our world of instant gratification, waiting is not a virtue; it is an annoyance. we want what we want NOW. waiting is an inconvenience– i have to be somewhere, do something else. waiting means that i have to live in the present, not the future. in the present, nothing is happening– i am looking forward to something else.
i can miss my heart being shaped anew by the Spirit through waiting with anticipation.
advent is a christian pregnant-pause to the craziness in our world. we need deliberate waiting with anticipation to appreciate truly the power of the incarnation at christmas.
“Word made flesh” will continue to dwell among us
as i get older, i admit that i try to hold off the religious as well as cultural manifestations of christmas in order to stay in “advent mode.” i get a kick out of some of the expressions from folks when after they wish me a merry christmas (before december 25th) or happy holidays and i respond, “happy advent!”
normally, i like putting up christmas decore on the evening of december 24th. ileave the decorations up through the season of christmas. each year, it is harder to swim against the tide of consumerism, cultural and market influences of christmas. technology has speeded up the process. indeed we are becoming secularized in not so subtle ways… but that is a different post for later.
in my advent anticipatory waiting, i ponder what God has in store for us. might i see for the first time something never seen before– this world’s “inside the park home run”? there will be opportunities given the rising cases and deaths from covid. will God-made-human anew help us dive deeper into jesus’ mission of love and healing? will someone enter our lives who might be christ-like and save us from our sin?
let us pray:
Come, long-expected Jesus. Excite in me a wonder at the wisdom and power of Your Father and ours. Receive my prayer as part of my service of the Lord who enlists me in God’s own work for justice.
Come, long-expected Jesus. Excite in me a hunger for peace: peace in the world, peace in my home, peace in myself. Come, long-expected Jesus. Excite in me a joy responsive to the Father’s joy. I seek His will so I can serve with gladness, singing and love.
Come, long-expected Jesus. Excite in me the joy and love and peace it is right to bring to the manger of my Lord. Raise in me, too, sober reverence for the God who acted there, hearty gratitude for the life begun there, and spirited resolution to serve the Father and Son. I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, whose advent I hail. Amen.
In tennis, I love the moments right before the serve. Every player has a different “ritual” they do…Rafa Nadal is infamous for his. But unlike baseball, tennis has a clock. The ritual cannot last more than 20 seconds or they get a penalty! 🙂
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similar thought. the moment of waiting is wonderful, no?
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