On Waiting Well

We find ourselves in a new moment of our lives. Whether we are now overwhelmed with new responsibilities, or with much less work and obviously much less social contact, our routines–or lack thereof–are changing. In a completely different way, of course, that has been my life for at least the last year. I finished my PhD a little over a year ago and have since had several different jobs, have been looking for what would be my full time job, got one–quit it (long story)–spent 3 months looking for a new one, almost moved into a new house–didn’t–found a new position, and have been fundraising for the last 5 months. I had hoped to finish fundraising by the end of this month to begin working with students on campus in April (and again, hopefully move). I’m not sure yet how exactly how my fundraising will be affected, but I can imagine it will slow down, and I doubt I’ll be moving anytime soon. In the mean time, we are actively working to support students online while campuses are closed. So the transition and the waiting continues.

But whatever the details of our situation, the forced waiting, the forced rest that comes in this season is an opportunity to trust and hear from God in new ways. I’d encourage you to think about some ways you can lean into God in this time. I find practices and rhythms help ground me in changing times and help remind me to return to who God is and what he is doing in the world.

  • My friend put together this city liturgy for those of us in isolation, to help structure our days apart but together, to reach out to others, to make space for breath and attention to what God is doing in the midst of our days. You could use or adapt a rhythm like this, incorporating prayer, scripture, and exercise.
  • Or consider the Daily Examen, a practice of looking back over the day to see where God was at work even when we didn’t notice it at the time.
  • A major element of the daily examen is gratitude, or listing how you have seen God at work. I had a spiritual director once suggest writing those on notes and putting them in a bag over a week or month and then at the end of the period reading them all. What might we learn about God if we did that over this period of quarantine and social distancing?
  • On a more practical level, I’m trying to practice this tip on digital minimalism: only read 1-2 news articles per day and then focus on productive, creative, work or action and only use technology to engage with others.

I came across this poem today and thought it was appropriate to our moment and the decision we are facing as we move into this period of waiting: You will have to choose for yourself whether you will attend to the signs, whether you will open your eyes to the searing light, the heat, whether you will open your eyes, your heart to the voice that knows your name

“Blessing at the Burning Bush” by Jan Richardson

You will have to decide
if you want this—
want the blessing
that comes to you
on an ordinary day
when you are minding
your own path,
bent on the task before you
that you have done
a hundred times,
a thousand.
You will have to choose
for yourself
whether you will attend
to the signs,
whether you will open your eyes
to the searing light, the heat,
whether you will open
your ears, your heart
to the voice
that knows your name,
that tells you this place
where you stand—
this ground so familiar
and therefore unregarded—
is, in fact,
holy.
You will have to discern
whether you have
defenses enough
to rebuff the call,
excuses sufficient
to withstand the pull
of what blazes before you;
whether you will
hide your face,
will turn away
back toward—
what, exactly?
No path from here
could ever be
ordinary again,
could ever become
unstrange to you
whose seeing
has been scorched
beyond all salving.
You will know your path
not by how it shines
before you
but by how it burns
within you,
leaving you whole
as you go from here
blazing with
your inarticulate,
your inescapable
yes.

How are you leaning into God in this time? Do you have any goals or things you can share to encourage others? What are you grieving? What support do you need?

One thought on “On Waiting Well

  1. Finally took a moment to read this. Lovely, Emily. You write with such depth and clarity. Thank you for sharing.

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