12.10.2005

waiting...


Waiting is hard work. Yet it's good to have seasons of waiting from time to time, frustrating and annoying though they be. Advent is such a season for me this year. And I am realizing how much I am like the wind-blown grass of Israel that Isaiah spoke God into. I crave the mighty comfort God offers his people, yet I am impatient to get on to more important stuff -- answers, directions -- and forget that I, too, am fragile as wildflowers. I, too, forget the stories I have heard all my life of God's faithful presence, his relentless grace.

Isaiah speaks to me:

40:27Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,

or, whine, Israel, saying,

"GOD has lost track of me.

He doesn't care what happens to me"?

28Don't you know anything? Haven't you been listening?

GOD doesn't come and go. God lasts.

He's Creator of all you can see or imagine.

He doesn't get tired out, doesn't pause to catch his breath.

And he knows everything, inside and out.

29He energizes those who get tired,

gives fresh strength to dropouts.

Strength comes to those who wait. But I fight it with every breath, trying to get it myself.

It was pure gift to me when I saw Jonny Baker's reference to a wonderful video liturgy from the late vaux community. (I highly recommend going into a quiet place and watching it all.) Based around Walt Whitman's poem, 'finally comes the poet,' it reminds me that I am not alone in the waiting.
Christ waits to be emptied out ... emptied so entirely as to fit an infant's frame. Empty enough to need filling at a mother's breast.
So we, too, are called to empty ourselves as we wait, because full of ourselves we cannot be empty enough to receive God's gift. And that's the challenge. It's so easy to fall into the trap of calling on God to bless my fullness, to baptize my dreams, that I often miss the gifts that wait just outside my grasp.

Waiting is hard work, but it can bring unexpected blessings. One of my favorite expressions of those blessings is the last verse of the song "Mary Was an Only Child" (found on Art Garfunkel's "Angel Clare" album):
If you watch the stars at night,
And you find them shining equally bright,
You might have seen Jesus and not have known what you saw.
Who would notice a gem in a five-and-dime store?
In a Wal-Mart world, with the glow of parking lots masking the stars, with so much of our lives lived in tunnels, only waiting can help us see.

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