Advent 2016: Waiting and Acting


The Dalai Lama has been in exile almost 60 years! Talk about waiting! He gets up at 3 am every day and prays for five hours. FIVE. From exile and from silence, he changes the world.

There's always a tension between doing and being, waiting and acting. All the great spiritual teachers tell us that it's not one or the other. Our action must be incubated in stillness, and our stillness is made rich by our time in the world, sleeves rolled up, feeling both the agonies and the ecstasies.

For me, Advent is an invitation to take a break from my planning, acting, doing, striving, and nestle into the dark, trusting that receptivity is an energy, too. And that the hibernation is producing something I need, something the world needs.

Here's a few stanzas from Rilke's poem The Homeless Ones (translated by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows). If you're like me, the last few weeks may have paralyzed you. Take heart--the harvest is coming.

Then blessed are those who never turned away
and blessed are those who stood quietly in the rain.
Theirs shall be the harvest, for them the fruits.

They will outlast the pomp and power,
whose meaning and structures will crumble.
When all else is exhausted and bled of purpose,
they will lift their hands, that have survived.