Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Wait ...

Life was always a matter
of waiting for the right moment 
to act.

Paulo Coelho

Hi everyone! I'm overdue with this post and wanted to let you know that it's because I'm away until June 10th, working on the ethereal chronic sorrow book project.

I have attempted to write this book two or three times since my husband's death but each time have banged up against the truth in the words, it's hard to think and grieve at the same time. So, I have had to be patient and wait. Now, almost nine years since Derrick's death, I think the timing may finally be right.

Waiting is not my strong suit. I am a goal oriented person who is a little anxious until a project is completed (as opposed to being a process driven person who becomes anxious when he or she has to close down the possibilities and finish a project). My husband knew this aspect of my personality well so, during the last year of his life, while confined to bed but still wanting to make a positive difference in the lives of those he loved, he made me, and others, what he called "clay words",  clay disks with a special word carved in each one. People received disks saying peace, be still, joy, breathe, be well, rest.  Mine said, wait.

Wait? Why had he given me wait? Of all the lovely, inspiring words he could have chosen to leave behind for me, he chose wait ? I'm afraid I was a mite ungrateful until I read the painstakingly written note that accompanied the disk. He had used the word wait because he knew that soon he would no longer be here to balance my goal-driven behaviour with his process orientation. He wanted to remind me that waiting is a virtue I need to continue to cultivate, particularly at times when I'm stressed and wanting to jump to closure to reduce my anxiety.

There are many benefits to learning to wait. Here are just a few:
1.  It allows time to drop into the wisdom of our bodies. This is important for those of us who tend to move into our heads when stressed. We can benefit from the information gained through noticing the clenching and relaxing of our muscles, the constriction and expansion of our breath. When we "wait a minute" and listen to our bodies, we often find  the path to our best choices or decisions.  (Gendlin's book, Focusing, will show you how to do this.) 
 2.  It allows the picture to clarify fully. Often we act before considering all aspects of an issue or situation, sometimes with disastrous consequences. If we wait long enough to reflect and see the situation for what it is, with both its gifts and hidden pitfalls, we are more likely to to act wisely.
3.  It allows time to gather needed resources. Sometimes we need to wait for inner resources to accumulate - strength, energy, faith. Other times we need to wait for concrete external resources - money, time, tools, emotional support. When everything is finally in place, that is often a sign that the time is right to act.
4.  It allows us space to learn more about ourselves and our process. Where is our anxiety coming from? Goal or process? Or something else? What is it about the decision, project, or action that is making us feel threatened? Is there truly something dangerous in this situation or are we responding to emotional learning from something in our pasts? If we wait and take the time to reflect, we can track our responses and learn more about our patterns for next time.
5.  It allows the virtue of patience to develop more strongly within us. I don't know about you, but I can have buckets of patience for others, while having very little for myself at times. Learning to wait and be patient with myself is an act of self-compassion that gives me room to breathe and be.
6.  It allows those developing a spiritual practice of  contemplative prayer or meditation the time to  listen for the "still, small voice" within for wisdom and guidance.
7.  It allows us to tap into the natural rhythms of life - the growth cycles and seasons of nature. Both the ancient Judeo-Christian writings and the words of modern songsters speak of "a time for every purpose under heaven". If we wait and listen with our inner ears, we may come to realize that the season is right for a particular action. The healing or grieving is done, the soil is prepared, and the time for planting is here.
These are just a few of the benefits of waiting. Now, on this side of husband's death, I understand much  more clearly why he left the word, wait, to guide my path. Do, please, add more benefits if you have noticed others in your own lives.

See you again after June 12th!

1 comment:

Jan Spilman, MEd, RCC Compassion Fatigue Specialist said...

This is such an insightful blog post... I was very fortunate to be one of the recipients of a special 'stone' from Derrick. Mine has the word 'peace' on it... I too struggle with 'waiting' for the right place/moment to act/speak up/to write... I am always searching for a kind of peaceful way to 'wait it out'... Thanks for reaffirming the benefits of 'waiting it out'... Janet