It starts with a nudge.
A trusted friend, moved to pray for me, did so. A single word came into his mind. No explanation.
Wait or weight? he wondered.
Another listening pause. Both, he thought.
Soon afterward, his email lights up my inbox. I feel like a glass tube holding noble gas — stirred by a steady glow within and aware of humming, spiritual voltage: a prayer akin to neon.
I feel seen.
I’ve been awaiting someone’s decision. Unsure how to proceed, I’ve let the weight of not knowing siphon away my joy.
My friend pledges to “pray for the weight of glory to be revealed in and through [me].”
Times of waiting — so common in crises, relationships, and big projects—can short-circuit our outlook. Song, meditation, prayer, the Word — we flick our go-to switches yet often fail to discern what’s next.
An aspect of life as we’ve known it sputters and dims.
Perhaps God will generate something new?
You will have heard about the mythic firebird, the phoenix that rises from the ashes, soaring to new life.
Have you heard of “Phoenix regeneration”? It’s the final stage in a tree’s lifecycle.
According to arborist William Bryant Logan, when roots atrophy, water stutters through trunk and limbs. Eventually depleted, the tree surrenders its crown first. Ninety-some feet or more of a once-vibrant life topples.
But afterward . . . little images of itself may sprout from the lower trunk or even from the root flare, wherever a living connection between root and branch survives.
Does this rejuvenation suggest grace, incognito?
If new rootlets take hold, traces of the original tree will reemerge. You could almost call it immortal. Arborist Logan does, then goes on:
It is as though a person rested her arm on the dirt, spread out her palm, and two perfect new arms emerged from her lifeline, complete with all the muscles and tendons and circulation, the hands, palms, fingers, and fingernails.
O the Good Spirit loves an inside job.
Meanwhile, we really can shrug off the weight of having to perform. The gradual outworking of God’s holy perfection, already indwelling our souls, will reproduce traces of God’s nature in and through us.
In other words, be of good courage. No matter the present weight, wait. Providence will appear.
As if to underline the point: yesterday a sparrow careened into our window, then plummeted to our front step, seemingly dazed. Those bright eyes blinked, but the body, still standing, albeit hunched and ruffled, seemed paralyzed.
En route to church, we tiptoed past her, sharply recalling God’s eye rests with love on every creature. Surely she’d be gone by the time we returned, having regathered her strength.
Home we came. She’d moved several inches to the right, her downy head now leaning into a dead leaf. Would she keel over?
I brought birdseed and water, prayed she would rise. I wanted so badly to stroke her soft back, but caution checked my impulse.
Often it’s best to forgo interrupting what we don’t understand.
Maybe you or someone you love feels like that downed bird: stalled out, too shocked to regroup. May I pray?
Lord of All, restore and renew each person reading these words, wherever they feel depleted, uprooted, or fallen. Comfort them. Deepen their hope amidst the unknowns, even as you prepare their upward trajectory. Amen.
A tree. A bird. A God of Light who loves the living back into motion, by stages.
How do you cope with the weight of waiting? I hope you’ll share with us . . .
With thanks to Maria Popova, of The Marginalian (formerly Brain Pickings)
Photo of sparrow by yours truly
You might also enjoy this post from the archives: Waiting Grace, Hearts on Ice