Stephen D’Evelyn on Advent and Disability: Waiting is not just killing time

Today, 13 Dec 2015, is Gaudete Sunday.

We are all commanded to rejoice. We remember John the Baptist pointing towards Jesus yet to come.

During Advent in certain circles we hear a lot about preparation in the form of penitence. But if we really believe in Christ’s transforming, saving power, then we really have no reason not to rejoice.

Recently I have been editing a report for submission to the supreme decision-making committee at the University of Bristol pointing out the many layers of injustice embedded in imposing fees for parking on disabled staff whose mobility impairments mean they have no choice but drive and park.

But disability also offers new ways of experiencing not just hierarchies but also occasions of being together  — special times — and even the passage of time itself.

Gaudete Sunday and disability helps reorient us in time. We slow down. Celebrating—gaudete!—can be noticing and rejoicing in particular beauty, kindness, delicacy, love.

Waiting is not just killing time before the bus, which is always late anyway, does or does not come. Waiting is noticing, celebrating the beauty of each moment as it passes. And passing time is our passing away together. And in passing together we burn brightly. Better to burn out than fade away may be a false dichotomy. In burning and fading we find ourselves in the glow of kindness, being with others, that being-with made sweeter and more intense for the differences we are and in which we rejoice.

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