“Like a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God… When shall I see you face to face?” – Psalm 42:1-2
Waiting is the hallmark of Advent, yet the Advent psalms and prophets speak more about longing than waiting. Panting, fainting, begging, crying, desperate human need. Waiting can be active, but it’s rarely terrible and driving. Desire is visceral, like the crazed thirst of a wild animal in a parched land. God is a fierce and unrelenting need.
Advent craves God. Do you?
No, you aren’t thrashing through underbrush frantically seeking water. You don’t really relate to that panting deer. You don’t have experiences of God that feel that real. You’re no mystic.
Although there was that moment when you heard a loon on the lake and you cried, couldn’t stop, didn’t know why, but so wished you did.
Although there was that moment when you felt incomplete, a restlessness, you wondered what you were missing.
Although there was that moment when you were suddenly and completely happy, consoled without cause, and you wish you could feel it again.
Although there was that moment at the peace march, serving communion, stargazing in pure black night, when you grasped it whole, the way it is, the way it’s meant to be.
Although there was that moment when your heart lurched listening to a story about someone who risked it all, who loved the way you want to, yes, you do.
Although there was that moment with your defenses down and your suffering great when you just cried out, and then got scared: what if God comes?
No, you’re no mystic, no thrashing deer.
But there was that time…
I’m so thirsty for you, O God. Like the deer. When will I see you face to face?
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.