In Kenya, there is a lot of waiting. You could invite someone for lunch at noon, but wait an hour or more for them to arrive. People wait on the side of the road for transportation to the nearest town, with no knowledge of when a van might come. If it does come it could be too full and pass right by, or it could be empty and have to wait until there are enough people to warrant a trip. Service in any shop or office is slow and a small errand could take the better part of a day.
Here in North America we are always rushing. Even when we are not busy we seem to be able to manufacture an air of hurry. It makes us feel important, like our lives our full. December, in particular, becomes a time when everything ramps up and the very event we wait all year for becomes something we dread.
The advent candles in the wreath on our table burn slowly, inviting us to wait, to focus, to draw nearer. This time is a gift, the only time of the year that we are reminded that waiting is a blessing. In Kenya people say "haraka, haraka, haina baraka" - hurry, hurry brings no blessing. When I feel myself getting swallowed by the preparations and the fuss, I am reminded of my time in Kenya and it grounds me. It reminds me that there is blessing in the slow, the quiet, the waiting.