Do you remember what it’s like to find out if you made it on the team? Maybe you tried out for a cheer leader, or first chair in the school band or orchestra. Do you remember how long the wait seemed to get an acceptance letter from the college you applied?
I remember waiting a few feet from my daughter’s delivery room. She and her husband wanted it to be only the two of them on the delivery of their first child. I had no problem with that, and waited the wait for that sweet, new born baby cry.
Last month there occurred a crisis of health for this same couple. The first surgeon consulted declined to take on the necessary task as he thought his skills insufficient, for the job required immense experience and attention to detail. The referred surgeon said the preparation must not be rushed, and the surgery must wait until a full day could be scheduled for this procedure. That was four weeks ago. We are now nearing the scheduled date.
“Everything comes gradually and at its appointed hour” wrote Ovid, a Roman classical poet and author in 43 BC. I just received a text from my daughter saying the pre-op is already forty minutes later than scheduled to begin.
I feel like I’ve been holding my breath for over a month. The surgeon is extremely uncertain of the outcome—unwilling to make any promises for the sake of false optimism. His honesty is to be applauded, actually. But my heart wants to hear, “He’s going to be fine.”
The I Ching says, “When clouds form in the skies we know that rain will follow but we must not wait for it. Nothing will be achieved by attempting to interfere with the future before the time is ripe. Patience is needed.”
In Pema Chödrön’s, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, she describes these “opportunities” as follows: “It’s as if you just looked at yourself in the mirror, and you saw a gorilla. The mirror’s there; it’s showing you, and what you see looks bad. You try to angle the mirror so you will look a little better, but no matter what you do, you still look like a gorilla. That’s being nailed by life, the place where you have no choice except to embrace what’s happening or push it away.”
My daughter refers to that negative chatter of fear in her head as the doings of Lord Vordemort, of the Harry Potter stories. How does one cope from one day to the next in such uncertainty? You wake one day, the sun is shining, the kids are playing and then it hits you. Oh, it wasn’t a nightmare. It’s real. It’s still happening.
In times of stress my youngest, now a Yoga instructor when not working her full-time job, reminds me, “BREATHE.” Oh, right. Of course. Yet taking a full breath seems like something you entitle yourself to do under normal circumstances. This just isn’t a normal circumstance. But she is right. Of course…breathe. How often we recite, “I can breathe easy when this is over.” “I can breathe easy when I know he is out of the woods.” Until then.
“All human wisdom is summed up in two words – wait and hope.” ~Alexandre Dumas Père
Throughout my life I have witnessed people I considered to have great faith to be tripped up by fear in given situations. We are all, first, human. Fear is real. It seems our first reaction. Grateful? Yes, we were reminded that the referred surgeon didn’t tell us it was inoperable. For that we are grateful. Grateful. He has been conscious and present to us in all this time. We are grateful.
Pema Chödrön reminds us that when we encounter fear, this is where the courage comes in. She says, “Usually we think that brave people have no fear. The truth is that they are intimate with fear.” Well, what does that mean? How is that supposed to give me comfort? To be consumed with fear is to embrace hopelessness. Pema writes that hopelessness “means that we no longer have the spirit for holding our trip together.” We want to hold our trip together but find that the ground keeps moving beneath us. That means we have no control. That means having to let go of the idea of control, and adapting to the changes occurring. Trusting. Oooh. There is thatword. Trust.
We are anxious for resolution. Not just any resolution, of course. We want to get to the other side of this event, and we want the outcome to be the highest and best outcome possible. What more is there to say? Courage. Faith. Trust. Gratefulness. Patience. Praying for the highest and best possible outcome.
“The principle part of faith is patience,” wrote George MacDonald.
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