I can’t help but notice a wonderful connection between Joan Chittester’s words about the lessons on waiting that Advent teaches us, and the words of Desmond Tutu on how 27 years of waiting in prison fashioned Nelson Mandela in to the leader he was.
Joan Chittester writes that
Advent teaches us to give purpose to our waiting…(it) hones our insight…(it) attunes us to the invisible in a highly material world…If we do not learn to wait, we can allow ourselves to assume that one thing really is as good for us as another. Then we forget that life is about more than this life. (The Liturgical Year: The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life.)
Bishop Tutu, in his piece this week in the Washington Post, writes
The 27 years Madiba spent in the belly of the apartheid beast deepened his compassion and capacity to empathize with others. On top of the lessons about leadership and culture to which he was exposed growing up, and his developing a voice for young people in anti-apartheid politics, prison seemed to add an understanding of the human condition.
Like a most precious diamond honed deep beneath the surface of the earth, the Madiba who emerged from prison in January 1990 was virtually flawless.
Instead of calling for his pound of flesh, he proclaimed the message of forgiveness and reconciliation, inspiring others by his example to extraordinary acts of nobility and spirit.