Why is Advent Purple the Color of Waiting?

I went this week to a suburban Minneapolis county government service center to renew my driver’s license.  Yes, my birthday is in June, so what?  As I rounded the curved hallway, I could hear before I could see a young black woman YELLING into the pay phone.  “JOHNNY, I NEED MY PHONE.   YOU KNOW I NEED MY PHONE SO I CAN CALL MY DAUGHTER.   HELLO?  HELLO?  No, he didn’t just hang up on me!”  With a great flourish of the purple scarf she had been waving at Johnny on the phone, she dug into her bags on the floor to look for more quarters.

I had no quarters or I would have given them all to her, as much as I am sure the intrusion of a well-heeled white woman at that point would NOT have been welcome.  I walked past, covering her with a brief prayer.  Breezing through the DMV in fifteen minutes, I was the first through the doors after a two hour statewide computer shut-down.  Purple scarf woman was back on the phone yelling at Johnny as I headed for the exit.

This woman wearing the purple of Advent has been waiting her whole life.  Waiting for faceless computer systems, waiting for someone to tell her how to stay away from men like Johnny, waiting for a place to rest her bags.  I ask God, will she have to go to her grave waiting for some security, some peace, waiting for enough?

So at Advent, we all wait.  We wait for healing for all people suffering violence and isolation.  We wait for those who have more than enough to include those who don’t.  We wait under a dark purple sky, full of a million stars and angels, for Jesus.

advent purple