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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)


  1. Thank you, James.

    Susan Johnson Friday, December 18, 2015
  2. Xoxoxo

    Hope Wednesday, December 16, 2015
  3. Dearest Jim,
    Thank you for the wonderful poem/​meditation. It was life affirming, strengthening when I read it. Yes, this has been a year of transitions… And yes, I believe life is a series of rebuilding experiences that test every fibre of our body and soul. Thank God for those who watch over us and inspire us. Thank you dear Jim.

    Joanne DiVito Tuesday, December 15, 2015
  4. Thank you! When I joined the choir I expected to have a wonderful music director but I had not expected to have such a spiritual leader/​pastor as I found in you.

    Phyllis K Byajian Tuesday, December 15, 2015
  5. Thank you, James, for sharing your thoughts about your challenges/​worries in 2015. Your plate has been full; and thank you for sharing Mary Oliver’s poem. It will be helpful to us as we make our way through coming challenges.

    Susan M Houser Tuesday, December 15, 2015
  6. Thank you Jim for bringing that lovely poem to my attention. I too, had an eventful year. My sister died suddenly in Michigan and I went there six times to wrap up her affairs. It feels strange to be the last in our family. I do have some cousins and have tried to reach out more to them.

    I am sorry to hear about your Mom. Mothers are hard to lose!

    You are an inspiration to me…all the best as you move forward with your life.
    Merry Christmas!

    Andrea Anderson Tuesday, December 15, 2015
  7. Thank you Jim! Very inspirational my friend. Like most, I relate, and often have difficulty accepting the challenges and changes that life offers us. I think that when you have always felt that you have ultimate control over your life, and when you finally realize you do not, it can be devastating! However, it is important to continue on with a new direction.

    I am sorry to hear about Mom. I know how difficult things had been for quite a while. God bless her soul. I very much understand. 

    Congratulations on your marriage Jim! I am very happy for you.

    May this approaching new year be filled with the very best of good health and happiness always. Merry Christmas!


    Ron Sinanian Tuesday, December 15, 2015

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