One of the beauties of the Spanish language is the verb esperar. Espero. I wait. I hope. The verb carries both meanings. And as I live in a time of Advent, I celebrate both meanings of the word. Perhaps this semester more than ever as I work with migrants so full of hope.
This Sunday I shared a prayer of Advent with the women in our shelter. Here is an excerpt:
Tiempo de espera,
de atención y cuidados,
de respeto y contemplación.Señor,
hay mucho dolor en nuestro tiempo,
hay sufrimiento e injusticia,
ayúdanos a sembrar
semillas de esperanza.
Time of waiting,
of attention and care,
of respect and contemplation. Lord,
there is much pain in our time,
there is suffering and injustice,
help us plant
seeds of hope.
Esperan. They hope. Because that is how these migrants have chosen to live. The hope of a job in Mexico that might fund their children’s education. The hope of making it to the other side. The hope that they will be able to help aging parents or sick siblings in some small but critically important way. But most of all the hope that God gives them in his presence and his promise.
Sometimes hope can seem so irrational here. What right do these migrants have to hope after in many ways failing in their dreams? But that is what makes hope so beautiful. It often isn’t rational. It is transcendent. It is the confidence in a good, loving, and powerful God. It is the belief that we and all creation are eagerly waiting for a new and better future. Sometimes it is only living in the middle of a desperate situation that we grasp how important that hope is.
Pero esperan. But they wait. Many come here with dashed hopes and uncertain plans. As much as they learn to hope, they also learn to wait. To be patient with God’s plan for the world. A patience so hard that it hurts. A wait that often makes me want to cry out and say “can’t you just fix it all God??!” But a patience that helps us understand God’s heart as he waits for ours to soften and accept and follow him.
The time of Advent makes room for hope and for patient waiting. And reminds us that both are part of our daily lives – whether or not Christmas is around the corner.
So I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that when I played the song below for the women, they began to sing along because it contains words that they know well. A cry that they often repeat in their journeys.