When it comes to translating texts or sentences, it often strikes me as odd that some languages have two, or even more words for something, whereas other languages have only one. Latin for instance has two words for future: futurum and adventus. Futurum is the sort of future we, active and self defining individuals of this modern age, are most familiar with. It is the future we approach with ideas and expectations and a certain behaviour that best guarantees the outcome: we plan, learn, study and undertake all kinds of things to shape this future we are heading for.
How completely different is the concept of future when we call it ‘adventus’. This is not a future we approach with purpose and endeavour. This is a future that approaches us, like a traveller from afar. All we can do is look out the window from time to time to see him, or her appearing at the horizon. At best we step out to meet him, or her, halfway our front yard.
Not much action on our part, one could think. But is that really true? I’m not so sure. Even though it seems we are doing nothing we are surely doing something. We are waiting, and as waiting is a verb, some sort of action may be presumed, even if it doesn’t show in a way the eye can see.
Precisely this makes waiting a complex and rich activity, for it is like a box with all kinds of pretty and wondrous things inside. But the box is still closed so we cannot see what these things exactly are, nor if they are many or few. And also whether they are of any meaning or value remains to be seen.
Advent is not the kind of future we approach actively, but what we can do is prepare for this future actively. Make our waiting rich and meaningful, and yes, wondrous and joyful to the utmost.
Mary did. We so often forget that these last four weeks before Christmas are the last weeks of her pregnancy. And everyone who ever bore a baby herself, or was near a woman expecting, knows that these last weeks aren’t up for much but waiting. If only for the simple physical fact that you can’t move around as easily as you would like to.
There is not much to be done and at the same time a lot is going on. Though hindered in her movements, an awful lot is happening in the body and the mind of a woman in her last term. The dreaming and fantasizing, the doubting and wondering. The all too characteristic attendees at any major change or turning point: hope and fear.
And of course this sudden urge to clean the house. All women do that on the brink of motherhood, human and animal alike. Prepare the nest. Like with that traveller we were waiting for, we cannot haste his arrival with one hour, because that is not for us to decide, but we do clean the house and make a bed in the guest room, we do set the table and cook something nice. We do prepare and make sure we are ready for this arrival.
That is our part in shaping this new future. Wait, wait consciously. Be aware of what is going on around you, but far more important, be aware of what is happening inside you, in your body, your mind, your heart and your soul. Wait, and while waiting: prepare.
To be continued