Book Review: The Meaning is in the Waiting
Author: Paula Gooder
Publisher: Paraclete Press ISBN:9781557256621
I have thoroughly loved the devotional writing of Paula Gooder in her book of Advent reflections, The Meaning is in the Waiting. There is absolutely nothing “highbrow” about this little book of devotions; I found it very readable and highly engaging, it was hard for me to put down. Gooder’s writing style in this Advent reader is down-to-earth and thought provoking in a very charming and practical way. I felt as if I were hanging out in a rural country kitchen chatting up thoughts and personal perspectives about this season of expectant waiting. I don’t know Paula Gooder, but she seems like an old and dear friend after hanging out with her in this book.
As I mention, the book isn’t overloaded with viciously cerebral theological thoughts, although the devotions are anchored solidly to the Biblical narrative. Gooder interacts seamlessly with the narratives of Abraham, the Prophets, John the Baptist, and Mary, stitching and interweaving her own thoughts and experiences with those of the Bible. This helped to not only hold my interest, but served as a launch point for me to enter the stories as well, laying alongside the stories of the Bible and Paula with my experiences. I started to realize the meaning for my own waiting. This, in my opinion, is the sweet success of this beautiful little book.
Advent, then, calls us into a state of active waiting: a state that recognizes and embraces the glimmers of God’s presence in the world, that recalls and celebrates God’s historic yet ever present actions, that speaks the truth about the almost-but-not-quite nature of our Christian living, that yearns for but cannot quite achieve divine perfection. Most of all, Advent summons us to the present moment, to a still yet active, a tranquil yet steadfast commitment to the life we live now, it is this to which Advent beckons us, and without it our Christian journey is impoverished. (p.21)
The devotional follows the natural form of the Advent cycle with four weeks leading up to Christmas day. Each week is devoted to a specific theme: Week 1—Abraham and Sarah, Week 2—The Prophets, Week 3—John the Baptist, and Week 4—Mary, the Mother of Jesus. I enjoyed the writing of each theme very much, but was drawn particularly close through the identifications I made with Abraham, Sarah, and Mary. I think each reader might have a unique experience and attachment to certain characters; such is the wonder of these writings.
As of this writing, we are two weeks away from Advent 2012 and this provides plenty time to place an online order to your favorite retailer for this guide through this season that begins the Cycle of Light.