The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes–ah, that is where the art resides!   —Artur Schnabel

D ecember is here, in all of its bright and glittery fullness, as our season of waiting. For Christians, we are in the season of Advent – a time for anticipating the birth of Jesus Christ, and preparing for his return. For our society in general, this month is full of anticipation for the secular version of that holiday we call Christmas; a time of gift-giving, togetherness, the closing of our calendar year, and preparation for the year to come. This month is loaded with anticipation.

Last night, we celebrated the Season with a company party; a break in the normal day-to-day of our jobs. Our team appeared, adorned in sparkly dresses, sweaters, slacks, heels; anything but the usual from our working days. Smiles were on display as drink flowed amidst lively conversations, stories, and jokes. Festive music played in the background while the warm light of candles and the smells of pine, cinnamon, and perfume marked the holiday moment. A deep pause in the hustle-bustle of our days, pending deadlines, and the perpetual journey toward the the next thing, task, project, or objective.

Looking at this group of professionals, they no longer appeared as staff members existing in roles within the business but as individuals with widely varied and complex lives. With hopes and dreams built around priorities outside those day-to-day tasks necessary for the operation to function. The banter had no functional purpose other than to entertain or get to know someone in a different way. The evening was a true pause in the action, functioning to both celebrate and to relax for a little while.

In our rush toward the deadlines of life, it’s easy to miss the pause as we focus our energies toward the necessary – never realizing how that break harbors the life-giving art of our experience. In that pause hides the joy of anticipation, a static moment at the edge of what’s passed and what lies ahead. Within the momentary interruption, the music of our life changes and the next mountain looms in the familiar light cast by the path we’ve traveled. There is simultaneous satisfaction and longing in that interlude. It is fulfilling and necessary.

This is the season of waiting – of anticipation. Our year is coming to an end along with all of the joys and challenges it has held. Now is the opportunity to hold them both a bit longer in the pause, contemplating their lessons as well as their implications. New versions will return tomorrow, but here, we can simply breath and exhale all that is now.