How are you doing?
This period of waiting is reminding me of a couple of times that I was waiting very impatiently for something that I cared about passionately and that was completely beyond my control. At moments, I literally paced my apartment, gritting my teeth and muttering, “Waiting is a spiritual practice!” It has never been my favorite one . . . . I prefer a practice such as Mindful Eating, or, if a lot of waiting is involved, Mindless Eating. But one of those moments was the wait to see if I would be the ministerial intern in Middlebury, Vermont, and another was the wait to see if I would be offered the position of Parish Minister at UUCPA. I’m so glad I waited.
That’s easier to say now, in retrospect, since both periods of waiting ended happily. But even here, in the middle of a wait that may not end well at all, we have some spiritual resources.
The Spanish language suggests one. In Spanish, the most common way to say “to wait,” esperar, is also the verb “to hope.” Waiting, if it is twinned with hope, is never passive. It is purposeful; it has a direction, orienting our hearts toward what we long for. That makes even the waiting-time a time of preparation, in which we are already turning our hearts toward making our vision come true.
As you wait, can you stay connected to the sources of your hope? If you’ve forgotten them, maybe you’ll be helped by the many shared by others here at UUCPA (on video here–the sermon, with attendees’ contributions, begins at 22:45–and on audio here).
Yesterday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., thanks to the organizing of three creative and dedicated ministers and the participation of 40 of their colleagues, we were invited to a space of spiritual grounding. I was pleased to lead one of the 15-minute sessions. If you missed it, here are the two practices I suggested:
Get a piece of paper–white printer paper is good–and a pen or pencil. Set an alarm for three minutes.
Place the tip of the pencil on the paper and close your eyes.
With each breath, and keeping your eyes closed, move the pencil for as long as your breath moves. Stop when it pauses. The nature of your breath may suggest certain ways of moving the pencil. Follow these suggestions and keep going, literally drawing breath, letting your hand express your inhale, your exhale, the pause between, onto the paper, until the three minutes are up.
On a second piece of paper, or the flip side of the previous one, draw a large circle. This is your Circle of Control. Within it, draw* symbols of the things that you can control. Outside the circle, draw symbols of things that are outside your control. Some may be partly in, partly out. The border of the circle may be thick in some places, thin in others, or take different forms. If you’re finding that you don’t have anything inside the circle, or anything outside the circle, pause for some moments and recollect what you do and don’t control that is part of your life.
*If drawing even stick figures stresses you out, write words. Or instead of using paper and pencil, open a new computer document and use “insert images” to pull appropriate images off the web into your document. You can use the center as the “circle” and the edges as the outside of the “circle.”
I found that these practices helped me through the long day of waiting yesterday and are helping me wait, breathe, hope, today. I hope they help you. And if the waiting is too much and hope is too hard to find, please reach out and call 650-494-0541 x25.