on safety nets and waiting

waitingThe waiting times
I’ve heard
are lessons
to learn – so far
I’ve learned:

uncertainty is hard.
It wears at the
netting that holds us
Above that infinite
chasm of ultimate
un-knowing.

I scribbled down the poem above in my journal a couple of weeks ago in an attempt to reflect on the ruthless anxiety that has spread out and seeped in over the past, seemingly endless few weeks. We were waiting to learn about job opportunities, grades, financial provisions, and family health concerns. We were waiting to see how much we’d have to change to accommodate all the changes we couldn’t control. And just as the pieces started falling into some sort of order, my car broke down – and we’re waiting for rides and parts and final bills.

Waiting is inconceivably difficult. You have no central control. You make decisions and ease transition by doing an awkward, breathless, side-stepping dance around the resolution itself.

I went through a period of waiting before where I practiced repeating:

Wait for the Lord. Be strong and take heart, and wait for the Lord.*

I don’t remember what I was waiting for. I only remember the verse. It’s a brilliant phrase for us, the waiting ones, because it gives us back a sliver of control: You have to actively respond to a command. You get to take a deep, heroic breath, hold your fist out in an intimidating pose toward the empty air in front of you and press on. You are legitimized in your struggle by the implication that waiting does take strength and willpower. Your internal voice that incessantly nags, “What are you whining about?” gets a hand held over its mouth and, for the second you’re reflecting, you feel strong again. You feel ok.

So you repeat it like an incantation. You redirect your waiting. You wait for the Lord to show up, God-willing, and work toward believing that the rest of it will show up, too.

*Psalm 27:14

image source: Waiting by Dr. Hugo Heyrman

links & things

Research, news, and music that have affected me this week:

  • In Search of the Mysterious Narwhal by Abigail Tucker – Biologist Kristin Laidre studies the mysterious and secretive Narwhal with the help of Indigenous communities in Greenland.
  • The Marginalization of Women: A Biblical Value We Don’t Like To Talk About by Christopher Rollston – The Bible is fraught with patriarchal language and the church needs to accept it, but certainly not embrace it. The article has created much controversy and Rollston is now facing disciplinary action at Emmanual Christian Seminary, where he works and teaches.
  • Heaven is Real: A Doctor’s Experience with the Afterlife by Dr. Eben Alexander – Neurosurgeon, Alexander, experienced strange and wonderful visions while in a coma. He believes that what he saw is real despite the fact that it contradicts scientific theories within his own field. The vision itself is captivating and I’m interested in the discussions it could spark.
  • I love the Bible by Rachel Held Evans – I appreciate Evans’ transparency – the way she approaches the Biblical text realistically, revealing its nuances, its problems, and the difficulty of applying it to contemporary cultures while also recognizing its value.
  • Cat’s Entertainment? Musical male mice learn to sing to impress females by Rob Williams – As the co-owner of multiple mice, I was thrilled to discover that male mice sing at high frequencies beyond human perception in order to woo potential mates. I feel sorry that our three females will never get to hear the wondrous music of their species. For more detailed information about the song itself, read this article (unfortunately published by my college rival).
  • Perpetuum Mobile by Penguin Cafe Orchestra – This song makes me laugh and cry. It’s been playing in the background at the coffee shop for several weeks, but I had the chance to concentrate on it at home thanks to Pandora and it had a significant effect on my tear ducts.
  • The photographs produced by the Ballerina Project – Viewing portraits of ballerinas in urban settings is part of the reason I’m taking classes now. Their body movement and posture are breathtaking.
  • You Never Marry the Right Person by Timothy Keller – A spot-on discussion of what marriage really looks like and why marriage and love will never be easy.