Annie Dillard, Book Review, Give us Time!, II Corinthians 4:16-18, Outwardly wasting away inwardly being renewed, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Romans 8:22-25, Simone Weil, The great Eternal, Time & Timelessness, Time and Timelessness, Waiting, Waiting for God, We do not lose heart, What are you waiting for?
I’ve spent a lot of my life waiting; I grew up in a home where our mother strictly followed the German proverb:
If you are half an hour early – you’ll never be late.
Needless to say, I often found myself waiting half an hour for things to get started, and managed to infect my family with this pernicious time-consciousness. I am slowly being cured…
More recently, as I took a three month hiatus, I spent this summer waiting:
- Waiting for my first grandchild to be born (ten days late)
- Waiting for parents and children to transition to their next chapters
- Waiting for direction
- Waiting to catch travel connections
- Waiting to get started, and waiting to get finished
- Waiting to see old friends
- Waiting to return home
- Waiting to receive our Syrian refugee family
- Waiting for God
Waiting isn’t a waste of time, but it does take time; and if we’re fortunate, it takes on a sense of timelessness if we allow ourselves to be transported into the naked now & present tense of God’s attendance. Waiting has a long and profound history in scripture like this prophecy from Isaiah:
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!
This summer of waiting found me wading through the “waiting” scriptures – where I found The Message translation of Romans 8:22-15:
All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.
As I was Waiting
So waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminished my pregnant daughter who waited and waited for the inevitable birth of her first child. During this joyful and anticipatory waiting, I read a number of books:
Before Simone Weil’s death, scarcely any of her spiritual writing had been published. Here is a collection of letters and essays where she lets readers in to her own inner world of “waiting for God” – the summation of the “effort” it takes for the spiritual journey.
She realized that God Himself waits to “precipitate Himself” into our lives despite our inability to sense or to know His longing:
Only as time passes does the soul become aware that He is there. But, though it finds no name for Him, wherever the afflicted are loved for themselves alone, it is God who is present.
Give us Time!
I also read Annie Dillard’s Pulitzer Prize winning classic. She records that Thomas Merton suggested to emend the line in the Lord’s Prayer: “Take out ‘Thy Kingdom come’ and substitute ‘Give us time!” But Dillard realizes “time is one thing we have been given, and we have been given to time.”
You don’t run down the present, pursue it with baited hooks and nets. You wait for it, empty handed, and you are filled…
Not only does something come to you if you wait, but it pours over you like a waterfall, like a tidal wave. You wait in all naturalness without expectation or hope, emptied, translucent, and that which comes rocks and topples you; it will shear, loose, launch, winnow, grind.
… I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too… I am wandering awed about on a splintered wreck I’ve come to care for…
In the spring the wish to wander is partly composed of an innumerable irritation, born of long inactivity; in the fall the impulse is more pure, more inexplicable, and more urgent.
Aging and Eaten, with the impulse of Autumn
Thus dear readers, we’ve come into this happy autumn, scented with the dust of harvest, and feeling the cool of earlier evenings as we prepare for our Alberta winter. And life all happens if we wait for it or not, but as II Corinthians 4:16-18 goes:
… We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
What are you Waiting for?
I’m fixing my eyes on the great eternal, the present-tense God of the holy now and always-ever: He is more enigma than dogma.