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by Janine Schenone

“The Beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ” are the first words of the first Gospel, and we still need to read them every year. We begin the church year with these words, and they are a reminder that, from God’s point of view, we are still at the beginning of the transformation Jesus is bringing about in the world: still young seeds buried in the dark earth, waiting for the light of Christ to reach us and coax us out of our shells. One day is like a thousand to God, who is abundantly patient with us.

But are we abundantly patient with God? The justice and peace and deliverance promised by God do not seem to come soon enough for us. How strange that we chasten God for working too slowly when it is God who waits for us to grow. Who is waiting for whom in this Advent season?

Whenever I am crying out in my prayer like a Psalmist, basically asking God to hurry up, I am reminded of this poem by Hafiz—a poem that helped me recast my attitude at a time in my life when God seemed to be so far away and so unresponsive to my cry over a thousand days for justice. It still helps me.

Out of This Mess
by Hafiz (trans. Daniel Ladinsky)

Pray
To be humble
So that God does not
Have to appear to be so stingy.

O pray to be honest,
Strong,
Kind,
And pure,

So that the Beloved is never miscast
As a cruel great miser.

I know you have a hundred complex cases
Against God in court,

But never mind, wayfarer,
Let’s just get out of this mess

And pray to be loving and humble
So that the Friend will be forced to reveal

Himself
So

Near!

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