This Advent, The Table will feature weekly reflections from Deacon Christine Haider-Winnett, RCWP, based on the liturgical readings for that week. This week’s readings can be found here. Homilies and reflections on The Table are part of a new “Preaching Equality” series from WOC.
Here in Berkeley, we’ve had a rainier than usual start to our winter season. The hills look lush and green. All our neighbor’s lawns, which had been allowed to brown due to drought concerns, are now returning to life.
Of course, the most exciting thing about these rains is what we hope it will mean for the rest of the year: a replenished drinking water supply, less wildfires in the summer, and a more fruitful harvest. But it’s still far too early to know if these rains are a fluke, or if they are a sign that our drought is finally subsiding. For now, all we can do is enjoy the change in weather for however long it lasts, keep an eye on next week’s forecast, and hope.
“Be patient,” James tells us in this week’s readings. “See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and late rains. You too must be patient” (James 5:7-8).
Yesterday, my husband and I went to what seemed like my hundredth ob/gyn appointment since I became pregnant. The appointment took barely a half hour—just long enough for the doctor to listen to the baby’s heartbeat, ask me a few questions and schedule our next visit.
I am eternally grateful for these short appointments, which are a reminder that everything is– so far– going blissfully well. And yet, I always find myself a bit disappointed and frustrated that I am leaving without much new information about this baby. Whenever the doctor asks me if I have any questions for him, I’m always struck by how many questions I do have—and how few of them he will be able to answer:
-What’s the baby’s hair color?
-Does this child look more like a Haider or a Winnett?
-Will they laugh at my jokes?
-What name would they like? Because we’re still stuck on that.
Less than two months from our due date, I am suddenly more eager than ever to have any information about this person that has already become the center of my world. I find myself looking over the same ultrasound pictures, and constantly running over the few facts I know about the baby’s health and size and expected arrival. I find myself more eager than ever for this baby to just get here already. Frankly, I’m tired of being pregnant.
And yet, there’s nothing to do but to, like the farmer, be patient and let things come in their own time.
I’ve never been particularly great at waiting. I want to skip ahead to the end of the book. I want immediate gratification. However, James reminds me that, like farmer tending crops, I need to pause and be patient. I need to appreciate the miracle of what is, rather than focusing on what will be. This moment in my, and in my child’s, life will never come again. I don’t want to be so focused on the future that I miss the present moment.
This is Gaudete Sunday, the time when we recognize that there is—or should be—some joy in anticipation. It’s a reminder to slow down, be mindful, and not try to race to the finish line. It’s an invitation to enjoy the rain showers for however long they last, without worrying about when they’ll stop. To contemplate the joy and mystery of living in a moment of transition. To wait in joyful hope for the coming of what eventually will be.
Christine Haider-Winnett is an ordained deacon in Roman Catholic Womanpriests (USA). She is a former member of WOC’s Board of Directors and served as WOC’s Co-President from 2012-2014. Christine holds a Masters in Divinity from Pacific School of Religion, a BA in Peace and Global Studies from Earlham College and a Certificate in Women’s Studies in Religion from the Graduate Theological Union. She currently serves as deacon at St. Hildegard Catholic Community in Berkeley, California. Christine and her spouse, Alex, are eagerly awaiting the birth of their first child. You can learn more about Christine’s ministry here.