Advent 2017: Snowed In and Waiting
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Ravn Alaska is a regional airline that flies into the little-known, wild and not-easily accessible areas of the state; places with names like Chuathbaluk, Deadhorse, Nunapitchuk, Russian Mission and Shaktoolik. But the only one I’m interested in right now is Valdez, where our daughter Naomi is finishing up her degree in Outdoor Adventure Leadership. It’s been a tough semester and she is in the home stretch. I’m up here to help her finish, then transition back home and onto what’s next.
But instead of being in Valdez, I’m sitting in the Rustic Goat—a funky little joint in Anchorage—drinking coffee and trying to be productive while I wait to see if the afternoon flight will get off the ground.
This morning, while I was standing in line to board a propjet for the final leg of the long journey to see Naomi,
At its core, Advent is about purposeful waiting, intentional
they cancelled the flight due to too much snow on the runway in Valdez. Third time in a row.
It’s interesting to watch how the crowd handled this. There was no outrage or grumbling, as I’ve witnessed in other airports countless times. There was no rushing to be first in line to rebook, and no rude demands were made of the airline personnel.
Honestly, it was kinda weird.
It seems that people up here are used to waiting on the weather, adjusting at the last minute to what the extreme conditions demand. The lady in front of me was traveling with a toddler. They were booked on the morning flight the day before, so this was the third flight in a row that was cancelled on them, too. She took the news in stride, as if waiting for the cashier at Safeway to do a price check, even though it meant she had to get a hotel, spend extra money and lose a whole day of travel. With a toddler.
But the calm was contagious, and it got me thinking how differently my waiting is. I am so impatient, so quick to get bent out of shape, or to frantically search for an alternative. I’m so quick to do anything but wait hopefully while recognizing the force of the conditions I’m in.
So how is your waiting going this Advent? Are you running around, trying to control and over-manage? How are you dealing with the inevitable challenges and changes that disrupt your schedule? The thing with Advent is that at its core, it’s about purposeful waiting, intentional time out. We choose to wait, to let our trust and hope and faith grow deep and mature. Really, there is no other way, so we might as well learn the lesson these veteran Alaskan travelers know: The snow will eventually clear, the planes will take off and land, and they will find you a seat.
John Ray is a missionary, spiritual director and the elder responsible for teaching at Grace Church of NWA. John and his wife Jane spend way too much time packing and unpacking, vacuuming dog hair and chasing raccoons off their porch. They much prefer sharing good food and good coffee with friends, reading and trying to keep up with their daughters.