Squirming came easy. Whether I was squished between my two younger sisters in the middle seat or stretched out on top of lumpy suitcases lining the rear compartment of the wood-paneled station wagon, finding a comfortable position required squirming creativity.

*

With windows rolled down three-quarters of the way, a hot breeze wafted over us, doing little to keep humidity at bay. The joy of an upcoming beach vacation jabbed elbows with the frustration of endless miles and hours and more miles and more hours of two-lane roads as we headed to the coast of Georgia.

*

Long before we had even crossed the county line leaving Atlanta, we squabbled. “She’s on my side of the seat,” my youngest sister adamantly insisted, pointing to our middle sister and the imaginary line down the brown vinyl seat.

*

A few deep sighs from Mother, her grimace at the three of us did little to sway our discomfort. Our complaints led to Mother’s caustic cautions. Dad diligently drove, ignoring all the commotion.

*

Invariably after the first complaint tumbled the first question. That first question was always the foremost question asked, mile after boring mile after lingering hour.

*

I’m sure it’s one you probably asked.

*

It’s certainly one I heard from my own mouth as a child. Later as a young mother, it leapt from the mouth of my three young children. It escaped the mouth of my many elementary students in my teaching days.

*

En route to one thing or another, the question punctuated the air.

*

“Are we there yet?”

“Not yet.”

*

That reply that didn’t stop us from asking it again five minutes later, or 15 minutes later, or 25 minutes later, or on and on and on across those bumpy two-lane roads for miles and miles and dusty miles, hour after hour.

*

“Are we there yet?”

“Not yet.”

*

Mother aimed for redirection, “Look out the window. Quit fighting with your sister. Count the cows. Watch for out-of-state license plates. Notice the cotton fields, the pecan groves.”

*

What she was trying to inform us was that complaining, and questioning extended the length of the long journey. What made the meandering journey better was to look at the wonders along the way.

*

“Are we there yet?”

“Not yet.”

*

As children, we had no concept of time. We had no concept of distance. Alongside that, we had no patience.

*

Restlessness was as constant of a companion as humidity in July in the south. Questions hovered, dripping slowly like the stickiness in our un-airconditioned station wagon.

*

Hovering just days before Christmas, the question still punctuates the air.

*

“Are we there yet?”

“Not yet.”

*

We are not yet at the burst of angels declaring glory.

*

We are not yet at the stable to hear the squeal of the newborn King.

*

“Are we there yet?”

“Not yet. Not yet.”

*

We are not yet fully home for Christmas.

*

We are not yet able to open every present that will be revealed at the Renewal of All Things.

*

We are not yet able to sit and feast and hear tales of wonder beside the kindest, jolliest, most welcoming King of all.

*

“Are we there yet?”

“Not yet. Not yet.”

*

We have no concept of the time we must wait until then.

*

Will it be today, tomorrow, next Tuesday that we are there really and truly?

*

Will it be next summer or the winter after or a decade or six decades more when we finally are there?

*

“Are we there yet?”

“Not yet. Not yet.”

*

With no concept of time or timing, we are restless creatures. We draw imaginary lines on the distances we travel, squishing others with our demands, squishing ourselves with forgetting how to dream of delight.

*

Our patience grows short too quick; tempers flare.

*

Restlessness drives us to fill the space with empty things.

*

What seems so unfair gets voiced or often silenced, and still the time is Not Yet.

*

“Are we there yet?”

“Not yet. Not yet.”

*

So how do we wait in the Not Yet?

*

Do we wait with squirming and complaining? Do we wait with nagging questions on our tongue, bothered by the inconveniences of this Not-Yet life?

*

Do we wait, noticing wonder along the bumpy road that rolls on for miles and hours and miles and hours?

*

Do we wait with all of our longing fully present to what will be, hope unfurled in excitement for the journey’s end, which shall be more glorious than any seashore vacation?

*

Do we shut down our longings because emptiness shouts screechingly loud and we believe the enemy’s lie that we shall never be satisfied?

*

We are testy children, squabbling in the backseat, forgetting to look out the window at the wonders all around us.

*

Time still lingers long. Problems still shout loud. Unknowns are a dime a dozen.

*

But there are wonders to behold, here the week before Christmas.

*

“Are we there yet?”

“Not yet.”

*

But, soon, so soon, we can peek inside the stable and greet that happy morning where the God of Heaven came down and dwelt among us: Emmanuel, God with us.

*

That’s The Wonder.

Jesus, Wonder of the World.

*

That’s how we wait in the Not Yet.

*

We wait with our eyes upon the lively lovely loving Baby who came to give us life to the full.

*

We wait with hopes more wonderous than any beach vacation after miles of dusty miles after hours in a sticky car where we are unsatisfied with long hours of discomfort.

*

We wait in wonder.

*

“Are we there yet?”

“Not yet. Not yet.”

*

Yet even now, in this Not-Yet, we savor the One who came to bring us the best ever Christmas gift: His very Presence.

*

Oh, Wonder of wonders.

*

Merry Not-Yet here in Advent, dear ones.

*

Merry waiting and watching with wonder for The Wonder, The Joy to the World.

*

Lanemarnold.com

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