It seems as though we've only just lit the first Advent candle, and already it's nearly time for the next one! Caught up in busy-ness and meetings in London, plus various preparations for a Provincial Assembly this weekend, I feel somewhat deprived of the sense of longing and hushed waiting which the Church invites us to each Advent. Waiting - whether physically in a queue, or simply in prayer - always seems to denote a stillness and attentiveness at odds with all this busy-ness.
The other day I read a short reflection about the difference between waiting and expectation. Suddenly, I remembered a lovely discovery I made early on in my time in Mexico in 2002, when I realised that the Spanish word esperar - which I already knew means 'to hope' - also means 'to wait'. I remember assimilating this discovery into my vocabulary, realising too that it was the rest of the sentence, plus the context in which it was spoken, which told me whether someone was waiting or hoping for something. Without really thinking about it I had always vaguely seen waiting and hoping as two separate though linked attitudes - we tend to wait 'with hope' - but now, thanks to a linguistic quirk, I realised that waiting and hoping could be one.