Sunday, August 9, 2015

Trustful Waiting, A Fervent Prayer

Searching for a subject for this week's column, I pick up Music of Silence, a thin volume written by Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast. With a quick prayer for a fitting passage, I open the book to find this: "The very word crisis comes from a root that means sifting out." This is new to me but, sure enough, my dictionary gives the word's origin as krei-, meaning to sieve or discriminate. I read on.

Brother David describes crisis as “a sifting out of that which is viable and can go on from that which is dead and has to be left behind.” As we know, such a process is rarely easy. Often, it is excruciating. Letting go of a loved one, for example, might shatter the heart. And leaving a job that no longer serves us can be unnerving as we cast off into an unknown future.

But no matter the particulars, crises usually signal a time of wrenching reorientation. At these moments, Brother David urges us to ask for guidance. The guidance he speaks of is not for the purpose of escaping what has come to be. Rather, it is a request for help in meeting it with humility and an open heart. And, he assures us, an answer will appear. 

It may, he says, arrive unexpectedly, indirectly, or through a “serendipitous event,” though it might also be “completely internal: a dream, an unbidden insight,” or a more subtle change of awareness. However, such answers don't often arrive as quickly as we'd like. In fact, it seems we humans are most often ready to be done with our crises long before they're ready to be done with us. 

So we must wait. Yet how do we wait? In trust, writes Brother David, “and trustful waiting is a truly fervent way of praying.”

A trustful waiting, a fervent way to pray. Beautiful words that are exceedingly difficult to live when we're in turmoil. At those times, we are more likely to rail against what has come to pass, protect ourselves through a busy but numbing avoidance, or rush headlong into action in an effort to force things to be as we want. Yet for a crisis to be successfully met, we must find a willingness to accept the sifting out that is occurring. And often, a trustful waiting is the best we can do. 

Life is never static, even when we feel stuck in distress and our waiting seems interminable. Things will shift. It is the way of life.

So when crisis hits, we pause to recognize life working its way through us. We ask for guidance with a posture of acceptance. We listen with great care. And we wait. If we can find it in us to wait in trust, things will go so much easier for us. And a trustful waiting is, indeed, a fervent prayer.

May we use our crises wisely, greet them with trusting hearts, and allow ourselves to be reoriented toward a greater love. 


Leia Marie