Longing :: Week 7
Noticing the promise of new life that is pressing us forward, while remaining present to what is, now.
Longing is a movement of the soul in which we can do nothing but actively linger.
Do you ever waken in the middle of the night unable to go back to sleep? Do you toss and turn and fight with all your might to will yourself to sleep, to no avail? These nighttime disturbances can be an invitation to vigil.
Cistercian monks like the ones at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado, rise purposefully in the middle of the night for Vigils. During the deep silence of the moments between midnight and dawn, prayer is an act of keeping vigil, waiting before the Lord. Waiting in this manner bids listening.
Longing is about waiting.
Longing is waiting.
Waiting builds patience. Patience is wholehearted acceptance of what is, and hopeful anticipation of what is to come.
The process of developing greater patience builds trust. Trusting that my life is unfolding as it is meant to, in its perfect time.
Any mother who has labored and delivered a baby knows how longing builds patience and trust.
I don’t have children of my own, but on one winter morning, I had the privilege of waiting through the night while my sister-in-law labored with her second daughter.
We got the call around midnight. Chris’s brother Adam and his wife Winter were headed to the hospital. Winter’s labor had begun, resonating profoundly with the winter of my soul and my longing to bring forth new life.
Chris and I were so excited for them we couldn’t sleep. So Chris called Adam to check on them after they were settled and they invited us to come over to the hospital.It was the middle of the night, so the maternity ward was pretty quiet save a few crying newborns.
At first, Winter was fairly comfortable—tired but comfortable. We talked and walked together periodically. As time went on, the contractions got closer and more intense.
As Chris and I struggled to stay awake, Winter moaned and groaned in between restless slumber, reminding me of my own struggle to stay alert during times of hardship.
We waited . . . and waited . . . and waited.
In the dark labor and delivery room there was very little we could do. We just actively waited for the birth of Claire Jula.
The hours stretched into the early morning. Labor progressed and before I knew it, the doctor was coming in to deliver the baby.
All the months of preparing for this little one, all the sacrifice that Winter made with her body to develop another, all the long hours of labor were finally bringing forth new life. Winter’s birth canal was widening and untold miracles were taking place in her body to prepare the way for the baby.
The season of longing in our lives is a crucial time for listening. We listen to the desires within us and to the voice of God in those desires. We wait and listen and learn the will of God. Our minds are renewed and our capacity to bring forth new life expands.
We wait and let a work be done in us that we cannot do for ourselves.
As we wait, we become more acquainted with the presence and nature of God. As we wait, we learn to submit ourselves to the action of God, and eventually are able to bring forth new life…
…all in God’s time.
- How does longing express itself in your life? Are there particular moods that manifest?
- On a scale of 1 to 10 how easy is it for you to wait?
- What helps you in the process of waiting? Time alone? With friends? In nature? Through ritual, liturgy, church service?