Waiting and Waiting and Waiting Some More

The path around the pond is gray. The grass, normally lush this time of year, lies in brown clumps and pale green patches.  Even the hanging moss looks beleaguered, drooping from dry limbs.

The pond itself is half its size and the fountain is still.  A dull mechanism sits in the shallow center like a fallen robot.  Muddy water ripples only in a spring breeze.  While last season I trekked mud home, now there’s only dust, so fine it somehow seeps through my socks and into the crevices of my toes.

The duck family sits along a dry bank, as if the water is too stale and warm for bathing, drinking or swimming.  The largest duck waddles to the edge, like an old lady dabbing her toe into a pool, then turns back to the others and quacks, as if to say the water is too warm to be refreshing.  She settles herself in a shady spot free of the late afternoon sun.  I like to imagine that we share the same thought, wondering when the rains will come.

Many here wait for rain, longing for it, like the imminent grace we can’t yet feel.  I now feel silly carrying an umbrella and imagine saying, “Fine, God. I’ll call Your bluff.  Let it pour so I’m soaked to the bone and glad about it.”

Alas, God never plays our game of bluff.  And the pond recedes further to reveal a mid-bank which divides the sections in half, like a hard-boiled egg split in two.  I continue my walks, contemplating the dull patches, faded leaves and shriveled berries even the birds ignore.  I continue to walk, and wait, knowing that rain must come soon, though I know not when.

In scripture, someone always waits.  Time after time, in so many ways, we’re told to wait upon the Lord, wait for a sign, wait for God.  As I consider verse after verse, I realize that our ancient ancestors seem as impatient as we are, and they didn’t have fast food, drive-through pharmacies or Netflix.

Waiting for rain, or anything else requires a certain level of faith and trust, as well as perseverance and strength.  It isn’t easy to wait, wait and wait some more, trusting that we’ll meet the love of our life; land the perfect job; receive hopeful test results; get admitted to the university, society, program, club of our choice; grow our savings; age gracefully.

Tom Petty understood this when he sang:

The waiting is the hardest part . . .
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part.

I want the wait for rain — and all else I desire — to be as easy as possible.  So, for now, I leave the umbrella home.  My tote bag — and my mind — are lighter.  Soaking, steady rain will come again, and I’ll let it wash over me, the way God’s grace always does, exactly when we need it most.

© 2017 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks.  All rights reserved.

Pour Out a Blessing

I don’t know how it’s been in your life, Blessed Reader, but on occasion, I’ve been very tough on myself. Not only have I been embarrassed, upset or in pain, I’ve also gotten down on myself, especially in reliving distressing moments, wishing I’d done something else or chosen differently. I’ve even condemned myself.

In these moments, I’ve forgotten the power of prayer, especially the ancient belief which held that if something were blessed, it became a priceless gift. Especially because once it was blessed, it held great power for transformation.

Pouring out a blessing is its own spiritual practice. It means we may glorify through spoken word; request divine favor for a situation or condition; or wish a person or situation well. Blessing is different from gratitude. So, when we bless something or someone, we don’t need to be thankful for it. We don’t need to like it. Neither are we condoning or endorsing unethical, immoral or unscrupulous behavior – however we or the law define it. Rather, when we offer a blessing, we step out in faith and trust, opening ourselves to transformation.

When we bless something, we do what Jesus taught, according to the Gospel Writer called John (7:24), when he said, “Judge not by appearances, but judge with righteous judgment.” Because, when we live faithfully, we also realize, it’s as easy to bless as it is to condemn and judge. Yet, when we condemn and judge, we actually intensify the unpleasant, uncomfortable situation bothering us. We actually hold on tighter, rather than letting go.

Remember, as much as we might wish we could, we can’t go back in our time machines for a do-over. So, rather than continually condemning ourselves, a situation, person or condition, we bless it. Rather than trying to correct it or fix it of our human selves, on our human schedule, we bless it. Without judgments of right/wrong, good/bad, yes/no, should/shouldn’t.

The truth is: The God of Jesus and the mystics isn’t giving us more or less than we can handle. Despite what some religious folk may say, no devil leads us down paths of destruction or temptation. Nor does God dispense situations, circumstances, challenges and disease to test, punish, pester, or challenge us. Those are a part of life, what it means to have free will and free choice, and to live in this awesome world, which sometimes does not move the way we’d most enjoy.

The truth is: Blessing something or someone doesn’t change the past. It changes us. Because living faithfully, trusting in God’s expansive grace means we also realize: We can’t out bless God. This is what Jesus and the mystics mean when they speak of knowing that God is ever-present and active in their lives.

So, the God of scripture, Jesus and the mystics seeks our blessing, not because God needs it, but because we do. So we transform our thinking and our lives.