By Sister Stefanie MacDonald, OSB
“Make Time for Yourself: It’s Your Time” by Abbot Primate Notker Wolf has a lot to teach us about waiting and patience. These may not be your favorite subjects – they sure aren’t mine – but they’re important, so stick with me.
There are 2 kinds of waiting we can experience in life.
There is empty waiting, where there is no hope or anticipation for what is to come. There is no goal. Then there is fulfilled waiting.
Fulfilled waiting is the waiting for something we long for. It’s waiting to build relationships. The image Abbot Wolf uses is that of a young child waiting for Santa Claus, or a young man waiting for a girlfriend.
This kind of waiting must embrace patience.
“Patience means being able to see time passing without getting frustrated or aggressive,” Abbot Wolf writes.
Bingo. It’s where I fail. When I long for something, I often get frustrated by the wait.
That happened repeatedly while I was discerning religious life.
I longed for a sign – my own burning bush – to tell me want to do.
I did not always want to walk that road of patient discernment. But that road is important.
And it’s not – as Abbot Wolf points out – a road of doing nothing. Patience in waiting must be active: “Being patient, taking time, thus does not mean doing nothing and waiting for others to act instead of you.”
My burning bush turned out to be flaming in my own heart. As I listened, read and visited communities during my waiting, I experienced a knowing.
I challenge you to do the same. Get up out of your chair, get into the car, find a Sister (you know where I am!), talk with her, learn about her community in person.
Let your waiting lead you where you are to go. Let it flame into your own burning bush, deep in your heart. Let it be the sign you are looking for.