Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, ‘Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.’” And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. (Exodus 16:9-10)
I feel like I have been waiting a lot lately – waiting on the phone on hold, waiting in line to get into Trader Joe’s, waiting for packages for Christmas to arrive, and just waiting for 2020 and its challenges to be over. Yet, I am also aware that I am wishing my days away, instead of looking for glimpses of God in the midst of it all.
I have been thinking lately about waiting as a spiritual practice. That may sound strange, but I have realized that it has always been in the confusing in-between’s that I have encountered God in new ways throughout my life. The great Hebrew Scripture scholar, Walter Brueggemann, described the spiritual life as one that moves from orientation to disorientation to reorientation. We go through life feeling settled and comfortable – let’s be honest, we all love those times. But then something happens to move us into disorientation. For me, these have included losses, interruptions, or suffering which have made me rethink my life. Those push me into the uncomfortable in-between which I heartily resist with all my energy until I often reluctantly come to a point of acceptance. It is in that moment that I begin to see God at work in my life, reorienting me to a new beginning. God always shows up in the in-between – if we are looking. Every new chapter in my life has begun in this same way.
So, I have been thinking of 2020 as my year of in-between. I am trying to pay attention to the disorientation that I am feeling, I am struggling to be patient waiting in this in-between period. And I am trusting that God is getting ready to do a brand-new thing around me. What if God is getting ready to do a new thing in your life, in your family, in your community, in your world? I am choosing to believe that it is precisely in the murky in-between that God is waiting to meet all of us. Here is to holy waiting in this Advent season.
For all those suffering in the in-between’s of life
Wonderful Counselor, sometimes our prayers are simply questions. Where are you in our discomfort? How can we sense your presence in the wilderness of life? How can we let go of our need for control? Whatever our concerns, we trust that you will meet us where we are, offering the gift of yourself, replacing our doubts and fears with hope for a new beginning. Amen.