I shared a prayer this week in an online circle I lead every Monday morning. I always try to read something that seems relevant to our circle and the larger world.
This week I began searching for prayers with the theme of “letting go” — letting go of preconceived notions, letting go of the way we think things should be, letting go of hurt feelings and more. It led me to a prayer about “waiting,” which seems especially significant.
Sometimes we have to let go of things we are waiting for and may never receive; sometimes we have to let go enough to trust that all will be well whether we receive what we think we want or need … or not. Sometimes the miracles and magic happen in the midst of the waiting.
This is a great time of waiting for so many of us. When will the pandemic end? How long will it take for us to be able to travel freely again … to hug each other freely once more? When will our leaders do the right thing and unite us in peace?
Many in our country are waiting right now for the bitter cold, snow and icy conditions to end. Others may be waiting on the results of a critical medical test, or news about a much-needed job. Whatever your situation maybe be, take solace in the words of this beautiful prayer by Macrina Weiderkehr — and know that you are not alone.
The Sacrament of Waiting
Slowly she celebrated the sacrament of letting go. First she surrendered her green, then the orange, yellow, and red finally she let go of her brown. Shedding her last leaf she stood empty and silent, stripped bare. Leaning against the winter sky she began her vigil of trust. Shedding her last leaf she watched its journey to the ground. She stood in silence wearing the color of emptiness, her branches wondering; How do you give shade with so much gone? And then, the sacrament of waiting began. The sunrise and sunset watched with tenderness. Clothing her with silhouettes they kept her hope alive. They helped her understand that her vulnerability, her dependence and need, her emptiness, her readiness to receive were giving her a new kind of beauty. Every morning and every evening they stood in silence and celebrated together the sacrament of waiting.
What leaves do you need to surrender for the sacrament of waiting to begin? What have you already lost?
I can’t help but think of Jesus literally stripped bare as he hung on the cross: stripped of his dignity, stripped of the loyalty of so many around him, and so much more. As his shed his last apparent leaf, however, he wasn’t yet finished.
His soul sister Mary Magdalene stood by his side. His trust in what is rooted far below the surface of appearances filled his bare branches with the love and life that allowed him to say, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Mary was at the crucifixion, entombment and resurrection watching with tenderness like the sunrise and sunset in Macrina Weiderkehr’s beautiful poem-like prayer. She was in the greatest story ever told to keep hope alive.
Who helps to keep your hope alive when all seems lost? Or maybe now may be the time for you to clothe someone else.
Buddha must have shed more than a few leaves as he patiently sat under the bodhi tree for 49 days. He didn’t once move from his seat, trusting in the enlightenment that would follow — and it did. After stripping himself bare, he realized the power and peace that comes from accepting what is. But first he had to wait.
There is so much trust required in the sacrament of waiting — so much faith. This week my partner of three decades and I wait for the unfolding news of a medical prognosis that keeps becoming more serious. Tears are being shed like the leaves from Macrina’s beautiful tree along with dreams that may be cut short, and moments that may become memories sooner than expected.
At the same time, there is incredible hope. The angels are circling everywhere like birds nesting in our branches. Our roots are deep and strong with the healing power of prayer. They spread out in all directions like the supportive network of people we are so blessed to have in our lives.
Community and prayer help us to celebrate even the barest of moments when we are open to receive the grace of both. The tree may not look the same when it regrows its leaves — but it will be equally beautiful.
We just have to wait with open hearts and open minds.