COLUMN: Ponderings by Doug

We are entering the season of anticipatory waiting. There is lots of movement in this season. We travel. We welcome out-of-town guests. We hurry to the door when Amazon arrives. We overdose on the saccharine sweet stories on the Hallmark Channel. Soon, we in liturgical churches will talk about the “waiting of Advent.” Before the madness begins, I wanted you to ponder a writing from Sue Monk Kidd’s When the Heart Waits. She wrote:

“One afternoon as the children watched television and I folded laundry; we heard a terrible thud against the patio door. I turned in time to see blue wings falling to the ground. A bird had flown into the glass.

None of us said a word. We looked at one another and crept to the door. The children followed me outside. I half-expected the bird to be dead, but she wasn’t. She was stunned and her right wing was a little lopsided, but it didn’t look broken—bruised, maybe.

The bird sat perfectly still, her eyes tiny and afraid. She looked so fragile and alone that I sat down beside her. I reached out my little finger and brushed her wing.

A voice came from behind me, “Why doesn’t it fly off, Mama?”

“She’s hurt,” I said. “She just needs to be still.”

We watched her. We watched her stillness. Finally, the children wandered back to the television, satisfied that nothing was going to “happen” for a while. But I couldn’t leave her.

I sat beside her, unable to resist the feeling that we shared something, the two of us. The wounds and the brokenness of life. Crumpled wings. A collision with something harsh and real. I felt like crying for her. For myself. For every broken thing in the world.

That moment taught me that while the postures of stillness within the cocoon are frequently an individual experience, we also need to share our stillness. The bird taught me anew that we’re all in this together, what we need to sit in one another’s stillness and take up corporate postures of prayer. How wonderful it is when we can be honest and free enough to say to one another, “I need you to wait with me,” or “Would you like to me to wait with you?”

I studied the bird, deeply impressed that she seemed to know instinctively that stillness is healing. I had been learning that too, learning that stillness can be the prayer that transforms us. How much more concentrated out stillness becomes, though, when it’s shared.

The door opened again, “Is she finished being still?”

“No, not yet,” I said, knowing that I was talking as much about myself as the bird. We went on waiting together. Twenty minutes. Thirty. Fifty.

Finally, she was finished being still. She cocked her head to one side, lifted her wings and flew. The sight of her flying made me catch my breath. From the corner of my eye, I saw her shadow move along the ground and cross over me. Grace is everywhere I thought. Then I picked myself up and went back to folding the laundry.”