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Worrying, Waiting, Watching

Advent Meditation 2015

Worrying, Waiting, Watching
Saturday, December 12, 2015 James Walker
photo of sparrow

In mid-​November I came across this remarkable Mary Oliver poem, posted on Facebook. It was a wonderful gift. For me, 2015 has been a year to remember. So many transitions: All Saints music staff departures and arrivals, preparing for the rector transition, the death of my mother, hip replacement surgery, marriage!

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.

— Mary Oliver

It has been empowering to read that Mary Oliver worries too. With such eloquence, her words awakened me to some of the themes of Advent: waiting, watching, hope, peace and joy.

In the midst of change — with serene attentiveness — I’m finding that it is possible to flip worrying about what is into anticipation of what might become. Amidst the anxieties and deep challenges our world faces — through attentive prayer, meditation and action — it can be possible to reframe despair into expectant hope (even joy, sometimes!).

I awake to join the song. (“Even the sparrow finds a home and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young: at your altars, O Lord of hosts…” — Psalm 84:3)