Expectant

April 6, 2020

I’m entering into Holy Week expectant. Inexplicable, unexpected, and yet. 

I felt it stirring yesterday as I walked around our neighborhood, but it was easy to attribute my effusiveness to the magic of Portland in the spring amplified by the relief of being outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine — white cherry blossom petals showering from overhead, daffodils in every yard, every planter bed and tree and shrub being reborn.

Maybe it is that still. Today was probably the most beautiful day of 2020 so far. But I woke up this morning with the word “expectant” on my lips and in my heart. And considering that I woke up to my daughter calling me from her room because she woke up with something sticky in her hair (isn’t that how you wanted to wake up this morning?), that expectancy feels more than circumstantial.

This small story — of two things, the peace and the chaos, intertwined in the first moments of my day — tells the whole story of these last three weeks for me. Every day, I feel like I’m holding countless pairs of opposites. Perpetual grief and sustaining joy. Endless demands and overflowing gratitude. Relentless, noisy chaos and deep, abiding peace. Wearing so thin and yet feeling the nearness of God. Desperately wanting this to be over and fervently believing that God is at work. 

It feels like living in two realities that are both true. Never before have I felt 2 Corinthians 6:4-10 in my bones — having nothing, having it all. 

Most disorienting for me has been the lack of vision. My orientation to time is the present (dependent stance), but with a decided forward lean. It’s definitely different from aggressive stance mojo — I certainly don’t live in the future — but I’m always trying to make decisions in the present that are informed by what I see (or want to see) in the future. 

Right now, that feels impossible. Every inspirational Instagram account is asking us to think about who we want to be when this pandemic is over, and I love the heartbeat behind that but I can’t begin to answer. I’m used to staring down a hallway — sometimes a long, dim hallway — and trying to discern what’s at the end of it. But this feels more like standing in the dark, barely able to see my hands in front of my face. 

I’m sure there are many people who can imagine who they want to be and then move toward it without striving. I’m not one of them. And if I know anything, it’s that the call on my life in this season is not to strive but to yield. It isn’t to be working toward (and thus be attached to) outcomes but to sit in the tension of the process. It isn’t to resolve but simply to notice.

A week before COVID-19 took hold in this part of the world, I wrote a simple phrase in my journal: it’s yielding and abiding, over and over. I tend to live as if abiding is the only part that’s ongoing — but in fact, both are daily, hourly, minute by minute. Especially in a time like this, I can expect nothing if I think it’s up to me to make it happen. Instead, it’s simply up to me to abide and to yield — and then to be expectant.

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