Always pain before a child is born
Why the dark before the dawn? – U2
Few of us are very good at waiting..
We wait in a thousand ways… We wait in an airport for a plane that is delayed. We wait in a dentist’s office for our turn in the chair.. We wait in the line up at The Bay or Circuit City for that gift for a friend. We wait ..
And we wait for those transitions that are too slow in coming: the end of a job that is outworn, and the beginning of a new one that lies nearer to our passion. Perhaps we wait for something even more basic: we wait for health, the end of a prolonged illness. Or we wait for the good news that the child of a son, daughter or friend is born healthy.
We wait in a thousand ways, like we wait for the birth of a new world. Or perhaps we wait for the fulfillment of a promise made many years ago; we wait for a world of justice, peace, and light that seems so slow in coming.
It isn’t easy, because in our “now” culture of instant gratification, waiting is a lost art. Waiting as sacred space has been lost as we have lost our sense of rhythm, and found a way to cheat seasons, cheat aging, and streamline nearly everything into rational patterns of efficiency. The only ones in touch with rhythm are those who have learned to pray, or those who live by the sea, or perhaps women, who still know rhythm in their bodies and in the waiting for birth.
But if we have lost the ability to wait, what do we do with hope? For nearly four hundred years the Jews waited for the Messiah, but when he arrived, all but a few missed him. They had learned to occupy their time so well, that they had lost the ability to perceive difference. They had their system rationalized down to the smallest detail; nothing escaped their notice. Nothing.. yet everything.
While we wait we live in between the times. That is a sacred space when we wait in hope. And when we wait in hope we are formed and transformed by waiting. Hope shapes us into a faithful people, looking to a future we have not yet seen but we trust will arrive in good time. As Dame Julian put it,
“All will be well —
and all manner of thing shall be well..”
See also Hope and Memory in a Place of Exile