Hope is the word and emotion that comes to me when I think of waiting. Afterall, we are always waiting and hoping things will work out; someone will change, new doors will open, problems will be resolved and the list of hopeful waiting is as long as our optimistic thoughts of eventually arriving at the perfect outcome.
Admittedly, waiting has never been my strength. Although as I have matured and experienced the consequences of pushing through instead of waiting, I have developed a preference for pausing and considering before pushing. It’s been a slow and painful process and I know I’m not alone in this evolution. Nonetheless, I know there is something more in the waiting process I need to discover. As the longstanding quote acknowledges, "When the student is ready, the teacher appears." Of course, we do have to wait for the teacher to appear, but eventually he or she does and the learning occurs.
In my uncomfortableness in waiting for certain things to happen this new year, I was beginning to feel disappointed that January 2020 had passed and nothing really changed. February is upon me as I write this piece and just a few days ago, commenting to a salon client my frustration around waiting, she suggested a book: When the Heart Waits , by Sue Monk Kidd. Here came the teacher.
The book is a reminder that we are all waiting and are uncomfortable in the waiting. Whether waiting in line at a bank, grocery store, or airport, we wait and are told to wait and stay in line. No matter which line or for how long, most of us don’t like it. The author writes about waiting as a rich and abundant space for transformation. She reveals a personal crisis of waiting…. waiting for what she calls the answers to the sacred questions. She writes, “Is it possible, I asked myself, that I’m being summoned from some deep and holy place within. Am I being asked to enter a new passage in the spiritual life—the journey from false self to true self?” Throughout the book she goes on to explore the ways in which waiting is essential for transformation toward the eventual essence of who we finally become, our true selves, the spiritual self.
During the author's time of crisis, while out on a walk, she comes across a cocoon on a twig, which she takes home and carefully tapes the twig with the cocoon to a crab-apple tree in her backyard. Of course, we all know that ‘helping’ and disturbing a caterpillar inside its cocoon risks botching the transformation and ending the life of the butterfly. She compares waiting for the butterfly to develop to the incubation of life itself from chicken eggs, plants in soil, to a human being. All the while, waiting actively.
I am unable to share the immense richness of stories, honesty and healing through waiting within the pages of the book, but this I learned for sure; weeks after finding the cocoon, Sue Monk Kidd witnessed the butterfly pushing out of the chrysalis, now transformed. The butterfly waits and waits a bit more before she trusts her wings will take her up to the sky, and then after waiting…she flies.
Wishing you a sense of active waiting….no matter where you’re waiting.