jan2017poinsettiaYesterday, I rolled up the 100-light illuminated garland looped over the loft railing and put away the rest of the Christmas decorations. Hand towels printed with scenes of snowmen, jingle bells, and reindeer will get laundered today then stored. Only the poinsettia in a corner of the great room will remain from the holiday.

Amid today’s soaking rain and fog, I wait.

Waiting is counter to my nature. I’d rather barrel into the day and check things off my to-do list as fast as possible. I love lists, especially checking things off, but I don’t like to wait. I’ve never put that on my to-do list. How would I know when to check it off?

Yet waiting can accomplish more than everything on my checklist put together.

Waiting might look passive but often is not. It’s listening rather than speaking, watching to see how a situation plays out rather than jumping in to fix it, staying calm rather than running around, crying in fear. Waiting is also active contemplation, “a vast opening to inner experience,” as Richard Rohr said in this morning’s reflection. And when outer spiritual authorities merge with inner experience, something divine can happen.

Epiphany: the day (January 6th), the season (the 6th until the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday), the state—an illuminating discovery.

The day has passed; we are in the season; and I’m waiting for the state, a Divine self-revelation, quiet, loving, and hopeful.

but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength… (Isaiah 40:31)

I began the year with one resolution: Thy Will Be Done. Every morning, I write that mantra at the top of the page in my journal. Below I transcribe a Bible verse and maybe quote from traditional experts, outer authorities. Then I scribble my thoughts, my messy-self’s inner reflections.

Starting today, I will write, “wait,” at the top of my checklist. Instead of “journaling,” I’m going to call that line item “waiting.” And when I look at the other items on the list, I’ll ask, “Wait, to what purpose?”

Then I’ll picture the red poinsettia, a reminder of Christmas, and remember the soaking rain, a promise of renewal.


  1. G Duff

    Hi Carole,
    A dear friend of ours just went to be with the Lord a week ago at age 94. He was an engineer who worked at RCA for years. He invented the picture tube for television. He was a mentor to dozens of people. A great gift was his “listening ” to you for a while before responding. I am going to miss him greatly! Thanks for your blog today!

  2. Carole Duff

    I am so sorry for your loss and grateful that you shared his memory with us.

  3. Betty Bourgeois

    First time, I admit, that I’ve not just admired the photo or introductory sentences of your essay but actually stopped long enough to read. — and appreciate. — your reflection. Thank you for it!
    There’s a book I read back in the 90’s whose title is Waiting. I recall enjoying the poignant story that unfolded — 2 healthcare professionals in China, whose open love for each other had to wait….
    Thanks again, Carol, for writing!

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you so much for reading my blog post, Betty, and for your kind support! -C.D.

  4. keithakenny

    Waiting is all about getting the timing right … and being ready when it comes.

  5. Carole Duff

    So many times, I don’t wait because I’m distracted with my checklist. My timing is off, I’m not ready, and I miss the chance to do God’s will. Being aware is the first step.

    Thank you for your comment. -C.D.

  6. awordofsubstance

    What an interesting way of thinking about Waiting. I find that my favorite task to do at home is laundry because really, all you’re doing is waiting. Yet, you can say you’re doing something. I also love lists – plans are important. Thanks for the post!

    • Carole Duff

      I love doing laundry, too, because it shows–dirty clothes, clean clothes, voila! And while I’m waiting for those lovely results, I can do other things. Or maybe just Wait.

      Thank you so much for sharing your comment! -C.D.


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