Waiting

The prayer below is pinned to the bulletin board above my desk.

prayer

Give me the strength that waits upon You in silence and peace. Give me humility in which alone is rest, and deliver me from pride which is the heaviest of burdens. Possess my whole heart and soul with the simplicity of love. Occupy my whole life with the one thought and the one desire of love, that I may love not for the sake of merit, not for the sake of perfection, not for the sake of virtue, not for the sake of sanctity, but for You alone.

Thomas Merton

It’s been there for months, but this morning the first sentence struck a chord.

ancient hall

Give me the strength that waits upon You in silence and peace.

I am in a season of waiting. I feel like I have been in a season of waiting for several years, but sometimes the waiting is more intense. This time I’m waiting for a phone call that will let me know if the season of waiting is over. Clear as mud, I know. That’s how it feels on this end, too.

phone

Seasons of waiting come in many different forms. The waiting of pregnancy is used as a metaphor for other types of waiting and I’ve been pregnant five times. Four times I held a baby in my arms at the end of the waiting and once I grieved my loss. It is better to wait the fully appointed time and hold that precious little one no matter how long and tiring the pregnancy.

pregnant

Isn’t it interesting that waiting takes strength? Of course, the reference isn’t to just any waiting but a certain kind of waiting. To wait in silence and peace requires strength. It’s easy to wait in noisy, panic.

The prayer also suggests that this strength is one that is given, not developed by practice. This is true and I should know. If experience in waiting was enough to give one the ability to wait in silence and peace, I would spend my days in Zen-like tranquility. Instead, in clamorous, frantic waiting I have managed to capture neither quiet nor bliss.

wait

The more I pledge to try harder next time, the more I am confronted with my dependence on grace. To experience grace is simply to allow. To allow. I cannot manage grace nor my experience of it. I can only ask and then allow it to work its salvation in me. Ask and allow. “God, give me the strength…”

I think tomorrow I will write about the second sentence in that prayer.

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