I’ve come to realise just how much I spend anticipating things. It might be something small, like how good a chocolate bar’s going to taste (and yes, that’s a frequent one I admit), or something bigger, how great a day out or a holiday will be (in pre Covid days at least). In this current season, anticipating a socially distanced walk with a precious friend, or the comfort of time with my parents in our bubble, can lift a week that’s feeling tough. Of course, sometimes I’m anticipating pain or discomfort - how uncomfortable a medical investigation might be, or something going wrong and the fallout from that. But on the whole, it’s positive anticipation. A good ‘looking forward.’
For Christians, the period of Lent is one of soberness and reflection, overlaid with the anticipation of Easter coming. We look forward to that glorious festival when we once again celebrate Jesus’s death and resurrection. The joy of his victory over death for us. The hope that he offers, both for this life and eternity. Now, that’s something to anticipate.
Many people give something up for Lent, usually something that they enjoy, that they’ll miss. The idea is that it’s supposed to be sacrificial and cost us something.
But, of course, Easter’s coming.
If you put aside that much loved glass of red wine for a few weeks, you can look forward to cracking open a bottle on Easter Sunday, anticipate that first, glorious sip. I imagine the thought of that sip keeps many a person going during Lent. Being able to anticipate the period of denial ending – and really, quite soon, all things considered.
In life, as in Lent, many of us have the privilege of anticipating many a good thing. Things that will bring joy, re-energise, offer a break from routine. Things that by their very nature of being anticipated, sustain us and give us hope. Hasn’t the loss of so much that we’re used to anticipating during life with Covid affected many of us? Making life less technicolour and more greyscale?
But what of our clients? What of those currently navigating our asylum system? What role does anticipation play in their lives? For many, anticipation will be of a far different hue.
Within a harsh and cruel system can they anticipate fair and kind treatment? Being heard and seen? Being believed and granted status and adequate support to rebuild their life? Or is it more likely that they are anticipating the uncertainty of months, if not years, in limbo? Of struggling to afford food and necessities, let alone luxuries? Anticipating with fear the devastation that will come from a negative decision? The desperation of being unable to return home yet having their pathway to life here blocked?
What can they anticipate that brings light, hope, comfort, sustenance? How much of this good ‘looking forward’ to do they get to enjoy?
I’ve realised that I take for granted how much I anticipate good things. How they sustain me and bring light to my life, keep me going.
This Lent and Easter, perhaps we could all be more grateful for how readily there are good things for us to anticipate? When we feel the pain of a limited life in this Covid season, may we better appreciate the limited life that sanctuary seekers endure. And may it make us more determined to keep serving, supporting and fighting with those whose cause for good ‘looking forward’ is so restricted by the UK’s ‘hostile environment’ and asylum processes.