In a consumer driven culture, we are so accustomed to instant gratification that I don’t know if we really know how to wait. We fall into the cultural trap of instant everything. Instant messaging, instant mail, instant photos, instant pudding, instant meals, you name it. We can talk on the phone at any given moment, no need to wait to get back to the office or home. Without learning to wait our spiritual life will remain shallow. In order to grow into the deep things of God we must become people who can wait.
Much of our life is a time of waiting. We are often in between the events of our lives. We experience the emptiness, the nothingness of nothing happening, or what John of the Cross calls “nada, nada, nada, nothing, nothing, nothing…….
One example is the Advent Story. In the story Mary waited through the long pregnancy and in the darkness of Winter for the birth of Jesus. The Christ child was born at night in a cave. The spiritual significance of this image is huge.
Much of our spiritual journey takes place in the dark. Most often it is it is when we are in the deepest of our struggles and when we don’t know what is going on; that God is working secretly in the deep places of our hearts. Usually we fight against this. We try to make something happen. We run from place to place, person to person, to get answers. We try everything to get a quick fix. If we wait, we may not understand at the time but, later we become conscious of the fruit of the dark time. We have come to new birth in the darkness.
If we want to enter into the deep things of God we must be willing to enter this darkness of waiting………..what the ancients called the “cloud of unknowing” leaving behind our preconceived ideas, our good plans, or assumptions under the “cloud of forgetting”
…………..to be in the Dark Night of the Soul. We must enter the cave of our heart and wait.
We must be willing to wait, in whatever darkness we are in,
the time when nothing is happening
the time when we don’t understand what is going on
a time of sickness and suffering
a time of death of a loved one
a time of empty and dry prayer
a time of loss
a time when we don’t understand where God is taking us or why
We must wait in vulnerability, in emptiness, being content to wait in the dark for the birthing of a new and deeper place with God, to the birthing of a new way of being in the world, a new understanding of our vocation, call to service, career, life……………
We all have our times of darkness. In fact, all of life is really a time of darkness to our limited comprehension as far as our spiritual life in concerned. We never fully understand who God is or what God is inviting us to become. The sooner we surrender to that, the sooner we come to peace within ourselves, and often peace with others. When we come to the place where we can live in the moment and not be grasping for what is to come, or what we think we need to know, or be about, or whatever. That is the sacred moment.
Life is a dark night. We can only know God through this darkness of unknowing. We can only know God through our willingness to wait.
Mary waited in the darkness of Winter……..for the coming of the Christ child.