waiting. . .
waiting is the word of the week. word of the year, in fact––so far, anyway. i’m on the other side of surgery––and have the tic-tac-toe board crisscrossing my side to prove it. they got out what they needed to get out (i hope), though it was more than we’d been betting on. so now i’m waiting.
waiting is a quilt of many textures. sometimes it washes over me, with a calm that takes the sting away. sometimes i feel my heart kick into higher, faster gear. i try hard to turn off the nozzle that lets the worries out. but even my secondborn tells me i do too much of that. and he’s only been keeping watch for twenty-one of my years (and he is 300 miles away right now, so he’s out of range for any current worries; job one for me is to project calm to the one with the very, very giant heart). it’ll take two weeks for the blessed souls in the pathology lab to do what all they do to lay out the specifics of this little dervish that somehow found its way to the bottom of my lung. and that gives me time to sink slowly into the bath of this new reality.
waiting gives the human species time to settle in, to realize you’ve taken more steps into the unknown than you’d ever imagined you would. and you’re calmer––and maybe braver––than you’d ever ever imagined you could be (most of the time anyway). of all the worries i’ve worried over the years, i never added lungs to the list.
just the other week, i read a lovely line from a 96-year-old, a woman who knew she was on the last pages of her life, and so she scribbled out her truths for her children, her grandchildren, and her many greats. when asked what might be the most important thing she’d realized as she rounded the final bend, she simply said: “i wish i hadn’t spent so many hours worrying, cuz most of those worries never came to be.”
mostly, what waiting does is make me savor every minute. stepping out into the balmy springtime air. tucking my nose into the soon-to-be blossoms. listening to the owls hoot at 5:15 a.m. marveling at the miracles of modern medicine that can do so very very much, and for the most part do it so very lovingly. (i fell in love with my nurses, emily who stayed all night with me, and clare who worked by day. the care with which they changed dressings, filled syringes, listened to my questions, they made me so so proud that i was once one of them. and they made me realize how very much even their most basic medical tasks translate into a language that feels like love. i was a stranger to them when i was rolled into my cubicle of a room, but by shift’s end i was sad to see them leave. if you’re a nurse, believe me when i tell you you’re a living saint. to make the scared and fragile and confused feel safe and tended to is a sacred act, is sacramental, in that it lifts even the most perfunctory of duties into the closest thing i know to benediction.)
a few of things i marveled at this week, while idling in my wait station: my friend the nurse practitioner who, when she found out how much it hurt to try to lie down in bed, ordered up a giant wedge pillow that made last night a whole lot less bumpy. having two of my three boys right by my bedside all week long. one of ’em had me laughing (sidesplittingly is not such an apt description here, though it might have stretched some stitches) within hours of getting to my little room. (i was on the heart transplant floor, and, believe you me, i did not miss for a minute how blessed i was to be there only for a chunk taken out of my little lung.)
yet another surround-sound marvel in this week one of the two-week wait: the promise of springtime, that life bursts forth year after year after year. we live in an eternal spiral, and i am on for the holy blessed sumptuous ride. stepping into the still soft air, watching the goldfinch nibble at the thistle seed, rejoicing as the daffodils tossed off their snowy caps to rise and shine again, golden periscopes of spring. it felt to me like the arms of God were wrapping round me in the form of this gentle greening world.
in book world, one fine thing happened: there is a lovely lovely journal, the EcoTheo Review––a quarterly put out by a collective of poets (mostly), writers, and artists who plumb the depths of wonder and beauty in this world, and who claim as their mission, to “celebrate wonder, enliven conversations, and inspire commitments to ecology, spirituality, and art.” and they published a conversation we’d had a few weeks back about The Book of Nature, which you can read here. the editor who spent hours in our exchange of thoughts, Esteban Rodriguez is his name, is himself a poet, and one of the kindest, gentlest souls i’ve been blessed to come to know. it more than more than made up for the half dozen book events that got wiped off the calendar.
while i wait in these days ahead (and try so hard not to worry!), i’m going to be on watch, to soak up and see every blessed wonder and beauty in this holy world. i don’t want to miss a drop. i am following the instruction of richard rohr, the modern-day mystic, who asked:
Where is this God being revealed? Not in the safe world, but at the edge, at the bottom, among those where we don’t want to find God, where we don’t look for God, where we don’t expect God.
i’m going to look for God in every nook and cranny along this waiting way. because i’m fairly certain God comes in a thousand thousand forms: in the gentle touch of the nurse who poked my arm, in the bouquet dropped on my front stoop, in the tub of soup that now takes up a shelf in the fridge, in the box that’s on its way from zingerman’s deli in ann arbor, and in every last note and gentle text that simply says, “you got this, and i am here beside you.”
God comes most certainly in the hours when our waiting gives God more than plenty time to tap us on the heart, the soul, the noggin. i’m on watch while i wait…
where did you find God this week, or whatever is the name you give to the all-embracing goodness that i call the holy Author of it all?
So very good to see you here…and please, please don’t overdo.
I’m not sure I found God this week, but I hope/trust God found me on Tuesday, as I dropped to my knees when Tom texted “all clear” from his oncology appt. I said both thank You and please, please, God, for you while I was on my knees. Both…and …
Love you. ❤️
oh, sweetheart! any call from oncology office that ends in “all clear” is one we pray for. and hallelujah for blessed tom. those glorious knees of yours sure get a workout.
i just wanted to post even a little something so no one would worry. i promise not to push it. though i am determined to do any and every thing they tell me to do to get beyond this……
I’m thinking of you. Trying not to worry. Life is something, isn’t it? Indeed, it’s a good time to cherish your garden, where there’s something new to see or smell or hear every hour. 🌱
every blessed hour…..probably every blessed quarter hour….
Keep getting well, Barbara, GOD keeps washing you in grace and peace. Love and prayers, Maureen
love that verb “washing.” i do feel washed. so much grace. so much love buoying me. i am praying for strength for my beautiful beautiful boys. i want not a worry to cross their beautiful hearts or minds….
I’m waiting with you, and praying. I have your hand clasped in mine, and I’ll not be letting go. So glad you are at home in your springtime garden. Sending love, sending hugs~ xoxoxo
Bless you honey. Thank you for “I’ll not let go …”
Was squeezing yours today…
So lovely. And Iâm so happy to hear about the flowers, the zingermans, and the bedside boysâand all the ways youâre being cared for. Lotsa prayers happening down here for you.
Waiting is so hard. But Iâm glad youâre filling it up with beauty. I think I have the exact same pics of Korean spice viburnumâoh how heavenly it is! Here is my neighborâs flowering quince, a fairyland of multicolor blooms. Do you have this bush?
i love your flowering quince, which i saw through the powers of imagination (and the email version you sent along!!!) tis a glorious day to be alive, indeed!!!!
The EcoTheo conversation /interview is just so lovely and thoughtfully written, I have bookmarked it and will look forward to reading again.
Thank you for sharing your waiting with us so we can carry it with you in our own ways~and from me, that comes with new murmurings of prayers for you with the morning bird song in my yard today. I believe in the power of strength that comes from prayer. Sending Strength to cover you and your family especially during this time, and for always.
oh, susan, i am so touched that you took the time to read that. the poet, esteban, who asked the questions is sooo lovely. and he has a couple new books out himself. i should get the titles to leave here.
i cannot tell you how much your sharing the waiting time. this whole adventure has been waiting upon waiting, and this is the biggest wait of all. your every kindness — wrapped in prayer, in love, or some combination of pure goodness — truly keeps me afloat. when all the world is distilled to its essence, it IS love that is the nucleus of all. it literally translates into energy that changes equations…..
bless you much,
Oh Barbie, I’m so relieved that you got through your procedure without incident and that your heavenly nurses took such good care of you! I too read your interview with Esteban and was very impressed by your responses to his thoughtful questions. Waiting and not worrying are indeed difficult tasks, but I see that you’re taking your own advice from The Book of Nature by finding joy in the here and now. Whatever the outcome, I know that God will carry you from start to finish. Be well, dear friend, I’m praying for you on bent knees with head bowed. ❤️
Thank you, beautiful❤️❤️❤️ xoxo
It’s Saturday evening by the time I got to read this, and I am praying for much, especially healing and a solid night’s sleep! And it seems that in your garden, you are living The Book of Nature. Everything is unfolding in its own time, including the Korean spice viburnum.
it is the prayer into which i walk as many hours a day as is possible. these days snowcoat still necessary. but the balms wash over me and through me, and settle into my soul….
Sweet friend. It is Simple Sabbath for all of us. I read your WAITING on Friday and have carried you in my heart over the past few days. I just read all of the comments here and echo each sentiment. Each of us have a waiting story so that gives us a powerful connection to wrap our arms around you and carry you through this. You have a powerful circle and we are here for you.
As I continue to read The Bookof Nature….
Our bluebirds, thrashers, cardinals and mockjngbirds have all brought their broods to our backyard. We are proud grandparents ❤
all those broods!! and i love your wisdom, and collective thread, that “each of us have a waiting story….” don’t we though? and they come in sooo many forms. i am going to imagine sitting on your low-country porch listening for the mockingbird song, and the wee cheep-cheeps of the babies, and in that depth i shall find blessed peace…. sending a hug south and east. xoxo