Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Waiting Place

Here is some stuff from Nouwen that really speaks to me right now, as we await Christmas, and as we wait for Niles to be out of the NICU and in our arms, where he belongs:

“Waiting, as we see it in the people on the first pages of the Gospel, is waiting with a sense of promise. ‘Zechariah, ... your wife Elizabeth is to bear a son.’ ‘Mary,… Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son’ (Luke 1:13,31). People who wait have received a promise that allows them to wait. They have received something that is at work in them, like a seed that has started to grow. This is very important. We can only really wait if what we are waiting for has already begun for us. So waiting is never a moment from nothing to something. It is always a movement from something to something more.

“Waiting is active. Most of us think of waiting as something very passive, a hopeless state determined by events totally out of our hands... But there is none of this passivity in scripture. Those who are waiting are waiting very actively. They know that what they are waiting for is growing from the ground on which they are standing. That’s the secret. The secret of waiting is the faith that the seed has been planted, that something has begun. 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.

“A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something is hidden there will manifest itself to us ... Patient living means to live actively in the present and wait there (consider Elizabeth, Zechariah, Mary).

“Waiting is open-handed ...To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life. So is to trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our own imaginings. So, too, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that God molds us according to God’s love and not according to our fear… That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control.”


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