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Center for Action and Contemplation
Expanding Our Vision
Expanding Our Vision

Waiting for Things to Unfold

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

On a bird watching trip in Baja, Mexico, theologian Douglas Christie reflected on the need for patience and letting go of control so that we can see in a new way:

What is being asked of us in this moment is patient attention; a willingness to slow down, listen, and look; a willingness to let go of our expectations, to accept the possibility that our efforts may not bear any fruit—or at least not in the way we have been hoping that they will.

The French philosopher and mystic Simone Weil (1909–1943) once noted: “We do not obtain the most precious gifts by going in search of them but by waiting for them.” [1] This idea comes back to me in this moment with new force and meaning. I smile to think of my own impatience, my relative incapacity to wait for much of anything. I wonder what this is about. Why do I put so much stock in my ability to seek and find what I am looking for? . . . Why is it so difficult for me to wait for things to unfold, to reveal themselves? . . .  

The idea that what we most deeply desire must ultimately reveal itself to us is not easy to accept. It suggests a relinquishment of control that most of us, if we are being honest, find difficult to practice. There is too much risk, too much vulnerability. Yet the willingness to relinquish control and open ourselves to the mysterious unknown is at the heart of every great spiritual tradition. In the Gospel tradition, it is described as becoming again like a child, or being born anew: learning to see with fresh eyes. [2]

While watching a desert sunrise in New Mexico, author and retreat leader Paula D’Arcy sensed an invitation to let her ideas about God expand:   

I sense, deep within, that there is more: more to know, more to experience, more reality than my careful definitions of God. . . .  

To awaken is not about staying in the same place and seeing, from there, new vistas. Nor is it about having enlightened insights, or realizing new thoughts or ideas. It is to find myself in the new vista, looking back at my former life with an entirely new set of eyes. It is, literally, to be changed; the spirit within becomes my sight.  

As the red sun now covers cedar branches and yucca plants on the hill to my east, I pick up a pen and begin writing down the questions that burn in my heart:  

Do I dare start fresh and let God, not my coveted image of God, lead the way? 

Do I have the courage to ask if all I believe is the fullest knowledge? 

What might it cost to move from belief to sight?  

And if some of what I’ve passionately held to be true is only the smallest glimpse of something infinitely greater, what would convince me?  

How do we become unafraid to see what we already are?  [3]

References:
[1] Simone Weil, Waiting for God, trans. Emma Craufurd (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1951), 112.

[2] Douglas E. Christie, “Wasting Time Conscientiously,” Oneing 10, no. 1, Unveiled (Spring 2022): 76. Available in print and PDF download.

[3] Paula D’Arcy, A New Set of Eyes: Encountering the Hidden God (New York: Crossroad Publishing, 2002), 10–12. 

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Young Shih, Untitled (detail), 2021, photograph, Taiwan, Free Use. Charles O’Rear, Grasses After Spring Rain (detail), 1973, photograph, Nebraska, Public Domain. Mohsen Ameri, Untitled (detail), 2021, photograph, Iran, Free Use. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge the image.

This week’s images appear in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story. 

Image inspiration: Dewdrops on grass, sunlight on the path, trees reaching skyward. It’s easy to overlook things we think we have seen already seen before. How can we look more deeply, allow our sight to be shifted so as to see anew?

Story from Our Community:

Each spring I volunteer at the Delaware Bay as a Shorebird Steward for the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. Our task is to help migrating birds feed on the Horseshoe Crab eggs. We also act as docents who alert the public and request their help to help the birds. Unfortunately, we also have to inform them that what they are seeing is in peril, threatened by over-harvesting and loss of habitat. The goal is to raise awareness and encourage others to take up the task of protecting these amazing creatures.
—Anthony N.

Share your own story with us.

Prayer for our community:

God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough,  because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Listen to the prayer.

 

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