Different Kinds Of Waiting

A couple of times in this blog, I’ve written about sermons that stuck with me.  Here’s another one.

The same minister who spoke about why Jesus came to Earth as a baby, also spoke, one Sunday in Advent, about passive waiting vs. active waiting.  The subject under discussion that day was Christmas.  As she talked about what we can do to prepare ourselves as we wait, so that the time is not a mere counting of days but a preparation of our souls to receive a big new idea, I felt that this new-to-me concept was going to be important in my life, and so it has proven.

There are so many times in life when we aren’t in control, or so it seems, and are forced to wait, spinning our wheels, maybe, for things to fall into place, or for the dust to settle…

Apparently, waiting is so much a part of our lives that there are plenty of clichés to describe its different aspects.  😉

Seriously, though, we have a choice with what to do with our waiting time.  We can simply allow the time to pass, or we can prepare, searching our souls and digging deep, to get to the truths which are really important to us, which form the rock upon which we’ve built our outward selves. 

I’ve been thinking today about the period of waiting one endures when faced with a serious health crisis, one in which the outcome can’t be foretold.  People have all different responses to such a situation, and I’ve always wondered whether certain responses represent a better adaptation to the circumstances, Darwinistically speaking, or whether each person’s response is simply another manifestation of his or her relationship with the universe in general.

Today it was possible to see a beautiful cross-section of these different responses, in the slice of life laid out on Facebook as my friend updated us about Mia the Chihuahua’s battle to stay alive.

It’s a delicate line to walk, when you’re trying to give support to other people’s responses to imminent death.  I think it becomes even more delicate when no one knows if the death is imminent.  Things got very heated on the Facebook ‘thread’ about Mia’s battle, and the words used and names called by women who are, apparently, regular church-goers, were quite astounding.

What I think is that it’s not a time to try to lay down policies.  One is better off responding to each tiny event as it happens, almost without reference to the past or to the future.  Or, as I think more carefully, sometimes it may be helpful to refer to the future, but only to the very near future.  Worrying about what might happen further than a few ‘events’ down the path is wasted energy, at times like this.

And energy is often being expended faster than one can store up more.  What my friend is going through is grueling.  I did my best to write supportively and non-judgementally, and have no idea if I succeeded.  I’m sure it was better for all of us to write something, anyway.  And I hope she got, at least, a bit of humor out of the words used by some of her friends, as they pounced on another woman who’d had the…stupidity?…courage?…to suggest that the battle be ended and Mia let go.

At some point today, my friend decided not to make a decision yet.  And I remembered, from my own dogs’ health crises, that, often, not deciding is a beautiful solution to what may seem an absolutely impenetrable tangle of facts, opinions–yours and others’–and gut feelings, those unjustifiable convictions.

My friend had the presence of mind, when faced by the vet with a breakdown of everything that was going wrong with Mia, to ask, aren’t all those things symptoms of malnutrition?  And when she was answered in the affirmative, she simply asked that Mia be fed on the same schedule that she herself had been using when Mia was healthy.  The vets agreed to try it, and now Mia’s temperature and blood glucose level are back to normal.  How can this not be a good thing?  Maybe her life won’t, in the end, be saved.  But just possibly, these small improvements in how she feels may help her heal from the surgery and fight her way back to health.  If not, they’ve given her a better quality of life right now.  And they’ve helped my friend, her ‘mother’, continue to advocate for the little being she loves so much, which is a very important part of the big picture.  This isn’t only about the little patient.  The patient’s support ‘system’ has, arguably, an even more difficult job to do.

I’ve been through this process often enough now to know that each one has to be dealt with a little differently.  Unlike the woman who suggested fairly firmly that it was time for Mia to go, and unlike the woman who wrote that, if Mia died today, she herself would no longer believe in God, I’m not inclined to think anything so definite.  I feel that at times like this, a policy of active, intelligent waiting–preparation, really–is the best response.

In this area, I’m perfectly comfortable knowing that I can’t know. 

For today, I think my friend made a very good decision.  She did dig deep into her soul, and it helped her to choose wisely for her little dog.  I don’t know if it’s possible to ‘weigh’ love vs. pain, but my gut tells me that love will always win any contest it’s entered in.  If my friend had let Mia go today, the kiss below wouldn’t have happened.  And I don’t feel that this world can spare the loss of even a tiny thimbleful of that kind of karma.

and the greatest of these is love

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