Advent is often referred to as a season of waiting. For those of you that know me, you know I am a huge Father Mike Schmitz fan. I watch his videos often, and I regularly use them with my college students. In his video, “Waiting for Christmas”, Fr. Mike talks about what is really meant by a season of waiting. He describes the difference between passive, active, and receptive waiting. He says that “Christian Waiting is receptive”. It is an interactive waiting. God is always present around us, and while we are always waiting for him to do work in our lives, we also must prepare and constantly keep moving. Then, when we find God in our lives, or when we experience what we at CFJ like to call Holy Spirit moments, we need to act. That is what receptive waiting is, constantly waiting but never hesitating to act.
In my position as the Catholic Campus Minister at Rider University, I am constantly in a state of receptive waiting when it comes to the students I work with. I listen for what type of programs the students want, and then I try to provide them with those programs. I take action by planning them, and then I go back into waiting when it is time for the program to happen. I wait to see how many students show up, how the event goes, and what the students’ reactions are. I take action by inviting students to get coffee with me, and then eagerly wait to see if they will say yes or no, and if the answer is no try to figure out a way another way that I can build a relationship and connect with that student. In every task I do as a campus minister there is some sort of waiting.
There is also this sense of receptive waiting when it comes to making my plans for next year. I am currently in the process of applying to graduate schools. I am actively writing personal statements, preparing for the GREs, reaching out to past professors and campus ministers looking for recommendation letters, but I do not currently know what I will be doing next year. In that sense, I am waiting to find all of my options and to then discern what is best for me. I am waiting to see what my future holds while taking action to try and find what options I have to choose from.
This past Monday, Q, Cat, and I went to see Frozen 2 as our community outing for December. The first thing, if you have not seen Frozen 2, what are you waiting for, go! The second thing, I took away two lessons on how I can get better at receptive waiting. The first was from Olaf, the loveable and goofy snowman. As everything is going wrong in the Kingdom of Arendelle, Olaf is seen letting kids stick gems and ice crystals onto his body mimicking jewelry. He simply looks up as says “We call this controlling what you can when things are out of control”. This is what I believe to be the true definition of receptive waiting. Waiting by definition means you are at least somewhat out of control, but you still take action to do what you can. This applies to both receptive waiting in faith and my fellowship. I cannot control God or my students, but I can still control the actions I take. The second moment was a song that Anna sings, called “The Next Right Thing”. In this song Anna is at a loss of how to solve all of the problems she is facing, so she recalls advice from one of the trolls, “When it seems like there is no future, you must do the next right thing.” This is what makes the difference between passive waiting and active waiting which ultimately leads to receptive waiting. With waiting you do not know the outcome, but when you are actively waiting you determine the next right thing and do it. That is what this fellowship is. When I started both the youth ministry program and the campus ministry program at Rider were non-existent. I had no idea where to start
or what the programs were going to look like but I began to do the next best thing, and slowly the programs began to take shape and my waiting to see the final product began.
So as advent is a time of receptive waiting, so is my year as a FaithJustice Fellow. I am constantly looking for the next best thing, listening to my students and co-workers to determine what that thing is. I am controlling what I can while waiting to see what happens with the things that are out of my control. I am looking for where the Holy Spirit is leading me with regards to my ministries, and my plans for next year. Advent is a church season where we are reminded of our call to this receptive, or Christian waiting, and my fellowship is filled with Christian waiting.