Were she still alive, today would be my sister's 54th birthday.
To anticipate is to act in advance; to be prepared. In these days, we prepare for the celebration of the birth of Christ; and Christians have done so for something around 2,000 years or so. Yet at the time Mary was pregnant, no one could truly anticipate the birth of Christ; it was impossible for anyone to conceive of who He would be or what He would bring to the world.
Although prophecy had foretold His coming would be great—and angels announced it—it was impossible, a priori, to know what Christ would represent. So the moments before His birth were moments, so to speak, when Mary, Joseph, shepherds and Magi held their collective breath. It was a moment of living forward into the unknown; a moment of great promise, surely (they had been told it was momentous) but the unknown, nonetheless. So no one knew what the birth of Christ consciousness would mean. It had never been seen before on earth, any more than Buddha consciousness had; and even in cultures accustomed to belief in Gods and higher powers, all the understandings were theoretical.
Each one of us lives within the same anticipation. We're not unlike Joseph and Mary, not unlike the shepherds. We are very close to a higher influence; but until it is born, no one knows what that will be like.
Cultivating a prepared state in anticipation involves an inner stillness. The inner stillness is necessary in order to receive something. This inner stillness may exist within all of the agitation and regular outwardness of ordinary life, without ever being touched by it. It is kept apart; it isn't mixed. That is to say, one might have a series of reactions, arguments, even the standard negativity that drives all of what we do, and yet have this stillness within that is a place of refuge that can be returned to.
The inner stillness is the place that receives the inflow. If we remain steadfast and are faithful in our intimacy, if we remain willing, the inflow will always be present — whether it is strong or not, there is always a presence of Grace within that can call us back to the service we have pledged within ourselves. It is the pledge of this service within the context of our Being that calls the higher unto us; and we are not forgotten, hence, if we are not forgotten, we cannot forget ourselves.
It's often said that anticipation is 9/10 of pleasure; and this is of course true. Even in the act of spiritual inwardness, what we anticipate — which is a great deal of what we can ordinarily savor in terms of our intimacy, our introspection, and our commitment to God — is a pale shadow of what awaits us.