Guest author: Nancy Loyd
I have come to realize that much of what I do as a spiritual director is to accompany others as they wait. Wait for some type of news, whether good or bad, wait for a depression to lift, wait for hope to return, wait for clarity to come in a time of discernment. Ultimately, it is about waiting to see how God is working in their lives.
We are now in the “official” season of waiting in the Christian tradition, Advent. The time when we are all invited to reflect upon what we are waiting for with pregnant anticipation. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all of our waiting could be contained in these few precious weeks?
The truth, however, is that we never stop waiting. Of course, there are different degrees of this. There is waiting in the check-out line, waiting for a return telephone call, or just waiting for the end of a long day. Then there is the more difficult waiting, such as anticipating the results from medical tests to inform us how drastically our lives may be altered. I witnessed this dramatic change of life recently when I went with a friend to the hospital for her weekly dose of chemotherapy to drip into her body. While waiting, we had a wonderful conversation about the gifts and difficulties she has experienced due to this involuntary interruption of her regular pace of life. She spoke of how she has learned to wait and trust.
I believe the invitation of waiting is to find God in the midst of it. At the hospital, I found God in the hands of the massage therapist who so lovingly massaged the feet of my friend as the drugs dripped into her system.
Often, there is nothing that can be done to “speed up” the process. It is a time of great vulnerability. We have no choice but to acknowledge that we are not in control. There is both fear and freedom in that realization. My desire is to help those I journey with to hold that tension and eventually learn to befriend the waiting. In this time of vulnerability, God invites us to let go of our need to manage time and outcomes. God invites us to rest in trust, and trust that no matter what is at the end of the waiting, God will be there.
As a spiritual director I hope to alleviate the isolation that so often comes with waiting. I want to create a safe place that allows another to face the fear and vulnerability that comes with leaning into the unknown with hope and trust. Just as a poor, teenage girl named Mary did so many years ago when she said, “Let it be with me according to your word.”
May each of us find the sacred gifts waiting to be unwrapped this Advent and always.
Photograph credit: Nancy Loyd