As we continue our journey through the season of Advent, the Reverend Whitney Burton reflects on the joys that come with anticipating.
On a Saturday in July, my boyfriend Steven talked me into going on a work errand with him. I didn’t want to, I had better things to do, but he guilted me into it. So we headed to Lexington for the Hot Air Balloon Festival, to tag along with Steven for work; or so I thought. When we got there, it became clear that we were actually going up in one of the balloons. In that moment, I knew.
Now of course the wind was too strong and we were forced to postpone until sunrise on Sunday morning, a 12-hour wait that would prove to feel like the longest 12 hours of my life. Because I KNEW. And we all know that it feels impossible to wait when we are excited about what we know is about to happen, but wait we did.
As the fog settled on that uncharacteristically cool Sunday morning in July, I stepped into a basket beneath a beautifully colorful balloon. The crew untied the ropes and threw them into the basket, our pilot fired the flame and we were off. Rising into the air we looked over the edge of our hot air balloon and laughed at the novel and exciting feeling of floating up, propelled by heat alone. As I looked over the edge of the basket, with balloons rising beneath us, Steven turned around, got down on one knee, held up something sparkly and asked me to marry him. Finally. Finally the wait was over.
I had after all been preparing for this moment. That had not only been the longest 12 hours of my life to wait, but it had been a long few months waiting for that moment. We had been talking about marriage. After two years of dating, sharing countless adventures, family vacations, game nights with friends and long hikes with the dog, we were ready for the next step, our next adventure together. I knew this was coming. And while I was surprised by the hot air balloon, I wasn’t very surprised about what came with it.
There was something incredibly wonderful about the wait and about the anticipation of this life-changing event, the eagerness and hopefulness that we felt in that very special moment. A moment suspended in time, just as we were suspended in the air. A moment that we could fully live into, because we were waiting for it, ready. And that sense of wonder and excitement heightened my experience, making it better than I could have ever expected. It was certainly worth the wait.
Anticipation gives us more time to live into these parts of life and is often just as incredible as the moment itself.
Advent is a season of preparation and anticipation. Throughout these coming weeks we ready ourselves and the world for the coming of Jesus. While the culture around us tells to dive right in, we as Christians take some time to sit in this moment and to wonder at what is to come. Not to get ready, buying all of the gifts and planning the family celebration and travel, but to truly prepare ourselves for what is to come. It is in this time that we experience with Mary the excitement (and uncertainty) of carrying a child in the womb. We seek to understand those who, like us, live in the hope in the Messiah.
We revel in the promise that is coming true, as all of these things are building up to that moment, the birth of Jesus Christ our savior into our broken world.
In this Advent season, instead of jumping into everything Christmas the day after Thanksgiving, I hope that we can find a way to live into Advent and the wonderful anticipation that comes along with it, knowing that the hope and joy born on Christmas morning is well worth the wait.
Hot air balloon/mountains photo by Whitney Burton.