The Vulnerability of Waiting

“Active waiting means to be present fully to the moment, in the conviction that something is happening where you are and that you want to be present to it. A waiting person is someone who is present to the moment, who believes that this moment is the moment.”
—Henri Nouwen, “A Spirituality of Waiting: Being Alert to God’s presence in our Lives”

Today would have been my refined, Welsh grandmother’s eighty-ninth birthday, and in this season of Advent I have been reflecting on her journey to death earlier this year. During her short time in hospice, hands were held, tears rolled, and her signature piglet laugh resounded. The pillar familial stories were told and silence was held. There was skittishness and shared milkshakes. At times a loving touch was painful and the oxygen cord was accidentally sat on. There was a huddling of family and close friends pouring over pictures and clippings; marveling at a life well-lived. Her dying called us to the vulnerability and uncomfortability of being present—to our emotions, to each other, to her, to the loss of her.

Waiting for something good can be equally agonizing. We have a vision of what could be and a desire for something hoped or promised. That place between where we are and where we think we are going is vulnerable and scary. What if it doesn’t happen? What if things don’t work out how we think they should? Waiting asks us to open ourselves to hope and to the possibility of disappointment. Waiting asks us to be reconciled in the present moment to any outcome.

In this season of Advent, we have been waiting and preparing for the promised Messiah. Whether this has been an Advent of joyful anticipation or agonizing dread, know that God meets us in our vulnerability in the most unlikely places, like in a stable with a helpless babe or in shared milkshakes with a dying grandmother.

Blessing for Waiting by Jan Richardson

Who wait
for the night
to end

bless them.

Who wait
for the night
to begin

bless them.

Who wait
in the hospital room
who wait
in the cell
who wait
in prayer

bless them.

Who wait
for news
who wait
for the phone call
who wait
for a word

who wait
for a job
a house
a child

bless them.

Who wait
for one who
will come home

who wait
for one who
will not come home

bless them.

Who wait with fear
who wait with joy
who wait with peace
who wait with rage

who wait for the end
who wait for the beginning
who wait alone
who wait together

bless them.

Who wait
without knowing
what they wait for
or why

bless them.

Who wait
when they
should not wait
who wait
when they should be
in motion
who wait
when they need
to rise
who wait
when they need
to set out

bless them.

Who wait
for the end
of waiting
who wait
for the fullness
of time
who wait
emptied and
open and
ready

who wait
for you,

o bless.

http://adventdoor.com/2011/12/04/advent-2-while-you-are-waiting/
© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com