The story of the Chinese bamboo trees would be immensely helpful for our reflection. Once upon a time, a farmer heard about Chinese bamboos and how they could make anyone rich. So, selling some of his properties, he went in search of the seeds. He found a seller in a distant town. After the transaction, the seller leaves the farmer these words before: “always water, wait, and watch!”
The farmer was delighted to tell his family and friends about the bamboo seeds when he returned. He shared how he would soon become rich when the seeds germinate and grow into tall bamboo trees. Everyone was happy for him and looked out for the magic.
Every day, the farmer goes to the farm watering the seeds. He did that for an entire year, but there was no sign of sprouting. He thought about it, but he remembered the seller’s words, “always water, wait, and watch!”
For the second and third year, there were no signs. The farmer’s family and friend became disappointed in him as he would still go out every day to water the seeds even when he could not see any sign. The fourth year was the same. But in the fifth year, something happened! He noticed some sprouting around the field.
In the following weeks, the stems were coming up in geometric proportions, and in just six weeks, there were bamboo trees everywhere towering up to ninety feet in height. It was then that the farmer realized that for all the five years he was watering the seeds, the roots were developing underground, and when they were strong enough, the bamboos sprouted and bloomed. The seller’s instruction worked: “always water, wait, and watch.”
Today, we enter the Advent period and a new trimester in the Church’s liturgical calendar. The Advent is a period of waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The coming of the Lord we await is symbolic because he would be born in our hearts (the new Bethlehem). Furthermore, we also await his Second coming, which would be at an unnamed time and season.
We are in the season of watering, waiting, and watching and the readings today give us those indications. The Book of Isaiah (63:16b-17,19b; 64:2-7) describes the people’s intense longing for the intervention of God, who is referred to as Lord, Father, and Redeemer. St. Paul in First Corinthians (1:3-9) tells his listeners to wait for our Lord Jesus Christ’s revelation. Finally, the Gospel (Mark 13:33-37) takes up the theme of watchfulness or alertness.
The Principles of Watering, Waiting and Watching for the Lord
Watering involves praying. Notice that it is difficult for living things to survive without water. What water is to life is what prayer is to the Christian life. Any Christian that does not pray is like a fish that cannot swim.
Waiting is not something most people like to do, but life comes with waiting. It could be painful to wait and more painful to wait for something you cannot see or feel. Imagine the frustration that could have overwhelmed the farmer as he waited five whole years to see the first sign of sprouting from the seeds he planted.
Most people feel frustrated, disappointed while waiting on God. It could be your story too. Often, we think that God is too busy to attend to us. Sometimes we even assume that God is no longer mindful of us. “I have prayed and waited for a long time, and I cannot continue,” some people often say. It takes faith to wait. Faith helps us to be trustful and hopeful without searching for a sign or evidence while doing so (Hebrew 11:1).
Watering and waiting without being watchful defeats the whole purpose of our relationship with God. Being watchful requires patience. It takes patience to keep alert and watch even when there are no positive signs, like in the farmer’s case in our opening story.
The Obstacle to Watering, Waiting and Watching
The major obstacle that hinders our disposition to watering, waiting, and watching is the misfortune of distraction. Anything that takes your attention from a desirable goal or value is a distraction. Distraction often starts from ourselves. We can become a distraction to ourselves through our choices and the things we allow into our lives. Family and friends could also become objects of distraction and other things around us that may be helpful in some material ways.
Your distraction might be during your prayer times when your mind begins to run around the entire world instead of focusing on God. Your distraction may be distrust and hopelessness when you ought to be trustful and hope on God. Your distraction may be impatience when you need to rely on God’s timing.
Often, some people wonder why they should wait on God. It could be your burden too. We should wait on God because God’s worth the wait. Next, we stand to gain when we wait on the Lord. Isaiah says that those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength (Isaiah 40:31). So, waiting on the Lord revitalizes and renews us.
Furthermore, we ought to wait for the Lord because He is bringing something bigger and better. I would not know exactly where you are now in your life; maybe you are fed with your current situation, and you want to quit. Please, before you log out, try to look up!
There is power in watering, waiting, and watching. St. James (5:7) tells us to be patient until the coming of the Lord just as the farmer waits for the crops to receive the early and latter rains to germinate and flourish. This is the same way you will thrive if you would keep watering, waiting, and watching.
God bless you; have a blessed weekend and a joyful week ahead.