Sunday, February 2, 2014

Ground Hog Day 2014: The 7 Gifts of Waiting

Yes, the time has come once again to heed the message of the Groundhog.  He's asking us to slow down and wait because he did see his shadow this morning at the annual ceremony in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.  There will be at least 6 more weeks of Winter!! 

Now of course this is the last thing that most people in this nation want to hear right now, because this has been a Winter to remember.  Atlanta, Texas and even Hawaii have all experienced the powerful reach of Jack Frost and the North Wind.  And states in the Upper Midwest and Northeast are experiencing the coldest winter in a decade, with sub-zero temperatures and accompanying wind chills as low as -50 degrees Fahrenheit!  Ouch!!

But thanks to a story by Danny Rubin, assisted by screenwriter/director Harold Ramis, and a wonderful ensemble cast of actors led by Bill Murray, we can transcend the 5-sensory experience of the Ground Hog's dismal forecast, and open our minds, our hearts, and our souls to changing bad news into good medicine!  In this picture to the right, we see the character Phil in despair because once again he's waking up at 6am to hear Sonny and Cher.  He's still trapped in his time-warp.  When you've seen the movie several times as I have, and you know how it's going to end, at this scene you just want to tell Phil, "Don't cry!  You are going through an initiatory experience so you can finally have your Happy Ending!!  JUST WAIT!!

But, it's really hard to wait when you can't understand or figure out how to get out of your time-warp, your cycle of suffer & struggle, your treadmill of unconsciously believing that you are not enough. Thank goodness for this film because it provides us with some practical answers. And the most important one is to embrace the waiting as a precious and time-limited opportunity to become all of who you truly are so you can have your happy endings.

Last summer at the annual book sale of St. Matthews' Church here in Milwaukee, I came upon a book written by Holly W. Whitcomb, a pastor & clergy-woman living in a suburb of Milwaukee.  The book is titled, Seven Spiritual Gifts of WaitingShe discusses the many types of waiting that we are called to do in life and references the popular Rumi poem that personifies "waiting" as guest we should learn to treat well.  Holly writes, "Waiting is an important guest to honor in the guest house of our humanity.  If we consciously allow waiting to be our teacher, we can accommodate waiting more peacefully."  The Seven Gifts are as follows:

  1. Patience: to trust in the fullness of God's time and be available to others;
  2. Loss of Control: to surrender to grief, ask for help and experience resilience;
  3. Living in the Present: to relinquish worry, act on faith, and experience "enough";
  4. Compassion: To receive, to know we are not alone, and to feel hopeful;
  5. Gratitude: to value the small things and turn obstacles into opportunity;
  6. Humility: to live without judgment, to reach for Love rather than achievement;
  7. Trust in God: to embrace the invitation to pray, to let go of fear and trust in Love.
Holly's wisdom is asking us to let go of having to wait as a burden, and to embrace it as a gift.  She's telling us to trust the process.  And waiting is no joke, especially when it's about money to pay your rent, or the results of test that screened for cancer or AIDS, or bed in a homeless shelter. And yes, we are human so we are going to get pissed off and angry, and sad and resentful, and  judgmental and scared.  But at the end of the day -- or the meltdown, we can remind ourselves that the world isn't out to GET US, it's actually out to GIFT US.  Like the character Phil, we can become courageous and audacious.  We can take on the learning of what we really want to do and who we really want to be.  We can experience the grace of just being willing to go on a journey to self-love, instead of cursing God and/or the weather.

So, I challenge you over the next 6 weeks of Winter, to consciously practice waiting and to consciously experience each of the Seven Gifts of Waiting.  I challenge you to make good use of the days when the weather does not permit you to drive safely, or to even walk outside your home without the risk of frost bite.  Contemplate what you can do to heal, to grow, and to evolve yourself, to love your Self, without doing what you would normally do-- or are scheduled to do.  I challenge you to wait, let go, and let come.

I leave you with this blessing from Holly's book:
Stand as you are able, and cross your arms over your chest.  Bless yourself with the words, "May God bless me in my waiting and in my trusting."  Ashe!