Yet I Will Wait Patiently.
Daily Advent Reflection.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
And knowing how hard it hurts when we fall
We lean another ladder against the wrong wall
And climb high to the highest rung
To shake fists at the sky
- Nickel Creek “Reasons Why”
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Last Saturday I had the pleasure of participating in a day of guided quiet reflection at the Episcopal cathedral here in town. It was the first time that I had visited that particular congregation, and I loved resting among the beauty of their nave and their grounds, receiving their hospitality and listening for what the spirit may have to speak to me through the story of the incarnation.
I relish these moments of prayer and simply being present.
Thursday I posted a Simone Weil quote on Facebook that seems to sum me up:
“Waiting patiently in expectation is the foundation of the spiritual life.”
Mary received the message of the angel Gabriel, she accepted it, she sang about it, and then she waited in patient expectation for the birth of the savior through her womb.
For me, the practice of waiting is a practice of trusting that God is in control and I am not – that I can only follow one step at a time, seeing only so far ahead as the next step. It is a reminder to trust rather than fear, to rest rather than become anxious.
In that place of quiet rest and trust, I can sing along with today’s psalm (126) about the great things the Lord has done, about joy and restoration.
But then, as the late, great Paul Harvey would say, there is the rest of the story…
I have questions, a lot of them, and they are constantly swirling around in my brain. It is in the quiet that I can allow them to be silenced for a bit, to take a back seat to simple trust. But during times of chaos and transition, when my world is unsteady and my vision a bit disoriented, they can come crashing down on my heart and I am prone to bouts of atheism or, at the very least, agnosticism.
I have described these occasional spells as that ride at the fair, where the floor drops out and you’re left stuck to the wall, spinning wildly and fighting to keep your stomach where it belongs. My faith just falls away, unexpectedly. The whole road disappears and it seems there’s no map to lead me back.
This is why I love the prophet Habakkuk, and why I return to that tiny book of scripture time and again.
Habakkuk questions God.
Habakkuk questions God and he doesn’t get struck down, he doesn’t get swallowed by a fish, or suffer some other dastardly fate.
Habakkuk questions God.
Habakkuk questions some more.
At the end of the interchange, I don’t think the prophet is fully satisfied with the answers he received. I get the feeling he’s heard them before, and will continue to wrestle with them in his soul. But he knows that his complaints were heard, and the lines of communication remain open. So the conclusion he comes to is patient trust and joy in spite of the unknowing.
Such a powerful little word. There is no fruit, there is no provision, there is no justice. Nothing is at it seems it should be.
Yet I will wait patiently. Yet I will rejoice in the Lord.
Here in the midst of the now and the not yet, in the middle of the mystery of the incarnation that was and the restoration that will be, may we wait patiently.
Here in the place where there are more questions than answers, more doubts than certainties, more supposed than known, may we wait patiently.
Here in the darkness, may we wait patiently for the glimpses of the great light, and may we reflect that light to others, as we all stumble together, one foot in front of the other, moving ever forward toward our great hope.
Kimberly Roth listens, lives and learns alongside both R Street Community Church and Eikon Church in Little Rock, Arkansas.