by Ginnie Horst Burkholder

The words of this poem encircle me with understanding and comfort. “You are not alone,” they say. They were the impetus for expressing how the sacrament of waiting has intersected with my life.

The Sacrament of Waiting
by Macrina Wiederkehr

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.

I woke up this morning and thought how 15 years of my life have gone by watching Lewy Body do its work. Like the tree dropping its leaves, I have watched things I once took for granted drift down into a pile of loss at my feet.

First, it was letting go of the going-to-work-every-day teacher, his coming home with a briefcase and a paycheck. Then it was the competent and assured driver who navigated us safely through any kind of traffic or weather. The partner who could do anything – from fixing the car to helping me find the mistake in the checkbook – disappeared. The articulate, funny stories that entertained and helped me to lighten up fell by the wayside, along with the camaraderie of communication that kept our relationship lively, safe, and growing.

Finally, I had to surrender the right to have any expectations of him. Expectations that only keep us apart and breed disappointment. So they have fluttered to the ground with everything else.

As I have let go of the longing that things could be different, I have felt stripped and empty and have wondered, what now? What do I believe? What do I trust? What do I wait for? I have watched sunrise and sunset waiting for answers and hope.

Answers and hope have come as I have seen my vulnerability, dependence, need, and emptiness foster a readiness to receive something new. Something new has broken open within me even as I have become tired, wrinkled, and stiff.

Hope comes in an evening sunset that spreads its blanket of color over the earth and melts the endless grey winter landscape.

It comes in the morning glimpse of a bluebird, perched and waiting for spring and nest building.

It comes in the simple words of someone who cares.

Changes and transitions are not death, but are less flamboyant times of restoration in the seasons of life. Letting go of what was unclenches the heart and opens it to something new. I want to embrace the colorlessness of waiting. I suspect it nurtures life more than I know.


© 2008 Ginnie Horst Burkholder

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