Hurry Up and Wait
Advent is a season of waiting. As my friend and mentor Bob Dannals said, "not so much for the coming of Christ in Christmas, as for his coming in glory. The end of the year, when days grew shorter, seemed a good time to remember to stay awake to God’s expected reign in our life."
and so we wait...however this whole year seems to have been a year of waiting: waiting for the end of the pandemic, waiting for the end of election season, waiting for the end of our exile.
We have all been in what the Celtic world calls liminal space: an uncomfortable way of being where you are, neither here nor there, betwixt and between. And for some of us, there even seems to be a lull in that liminal place.
Does anyone feel sluggish, distracted or unsure of what to do next? I certainly do.
But I didn't have to look very far the other day to discover that "lull in the liminal" in my own house and the value of waiting.
A new neighbor and friend brought me an orchid this summer. I happily put it in my living room in front of a big picture window so it would have plenty of light and dutifully fed it with cubes of ice once a week. It seemed very happy in its new home, and when the time came for the blooms to drop, I waited until they were all gone to cut it back. I have had luck cutting back orchids and putting them out in the yard in Florida under a big palm and waiting for them to re-bloom in the spring. Knowing I couldn't do that in the mountains, I thought I would just leave it inside and see what happened.
When the day of cutting came, I approached the orchid with my sheers, only to notice a new bud at the tip of the branch! Of course I couldn't cut it, and so I waited. Several more buds emerged and ultimately became flowers and the whole plant lasted another couple of months.
Last week as I prepared to cut it for the winter, all the blooms having fallen, I noticed this bud...yes, for the third time this plant has reproduced and will bring forth another blossom at some point.
And so I will wait again, knowing that with proper care and good light, this one too will bring forth a bloom.
Tomorrow will be a Thanksgiving like many of us have never known...fewer people at the table, socially distanced gatherings, and possibly great loneliness. And yet, I pray that each of us can look around at the glory of God's creation and be reminded of what waiting in nature is like and the reward that comes from the earth even when things look dead.
Let us stay awake and move beyond the liminal into a place of full understanding and celebration of God's reign in our lives.
For me, that is the only way to keep from being mired in the "neither here nor there."
With great thanks for being a part of this pilgrims' journey.