As each year unfolds, what are you waiting for? We call it longing because it distends our sense of time, and so much living is enlarged in the waiting. Waiting… for healing to happen, anticipating a change to come, expecting a loved one’s imminent return. Waiting… for loss to soften, an ache to ease, a void to shrink. Waiting… for tempers to cool, a chafed heart to mend, a conflict to ease, a bloody war’s end. Waiting… for a new day to break, a tired old one to wane, for the silence of night, or the chorus of dawn. Waiting… for a newborn’s cry, or a loved one’s final breath; we vigil before the mysteries of birth and death. Waiting… for the torrent to abate, eager for the drought’s release, we hold out for hunger and injustice to cease. So many ways and shapes of expectation, whetted keen in anticipation. All the while, and all around, so much secretly undeclared quietly waits to be noticed, savored, shared. Endlessly empty, waiting feels like drowsy, mid-afternoon dullness. Routines called “ordinary” when taken for granted numb and stultify. Immune to golden sunsets and icy mountain peaks, milky ocean spray and windswept wilderness, we fail to notice the grandeur and beauty that over-wash us. Even crisis fails to stir those still blind to famished children, ravaged lives, littered oceans, denuded hills, rapacious mines.
Daily life presents challenges and lessons that measure our attentive presence, and test our receptivity. In every golden moment grace hides in plainest sight for those with presence of mind and a will to penetrate. When life, love, or loss lift the veil, hearts and horizons are transfigured. In the clarity of astonishment, there is nothing ordinary about existence. Thus poets, artists, mystics come to life, poised for inspiration, to blow minds, crack hearts or mend them. Attentiveness is that heightened state of ever-readiness, of wakeful watching and wondering. Wakefulness sharpens connection, disdains distraction, discards pretension, unmasks self-preoccupation. Like a statuesque heron intent on a gravelly stream, or a tail-twitching tabby transfixed in the grass, electrically charged anticipation sharpens senses with focus and purpose. Now we enter a state of expectant attention—engaged presence—the opposite of terminal boredom. Fine-tuning the present, attentive to the peripheries, scanning the horizon, wakeful wondering disciples wait. Who knows how grace will greet you this moment, this day, this year. But will she find you awake and ready to receive?
—from the book Wandering and Welcome: Meditations for Finding Peace
by Joseph Grant