The Practice of Waiting - Psalm 130
A Lent Reflection for Saturday, March 25th
By Amanda Munroe
Lectionary reading: Psalm 130; Ezekiel 36:8-15; Luke 24:44-53
Selected passage: Psalm 130
Psalm 130, New International Version
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
2 Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
3 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
6 I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
7 Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
8 He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.
Psalm 130 is fitting for Lent, a season of waiting. The practice of waiting is so important to the Christian tradition that we observe it twice a year. Have you ever noticed how much longer Advent and Lent are than the celebration of Christmas and Easter? A lot longer!
Why? What’s so important about waiting?
Delayed gratification seems like a good guess: If you’ve ever seen the Cookie Monster short explaining the idea, he makes a strong argument that hunger, from waiting, makes cookies taste better. But that puts the focus on the cookies - the reward, the end result. And I happen to be wondering what happens in the waiting.
What happens now, when we can do nothing but wait?
One idea is that waiting grants the opportunity to change focus. When I am waiting, I feel highly sensitive to time. I feel great anxiety about not yet being where I long to be, of not yet having what I long to have. It’s interesting what happens when I shift my heightened sensitivity from awareness of time to awareness of place. When my sensitivity shifts to place, I often find that a sense of constriction (which has a tendency to intensify as my anxiety does) dissipates. It’s almost as if it seeps into the ground. As I take up space and ground into place, I feel stronger and more able to breathe. Focusing my awareness on where I am and who is with me in this place frees me, in some way, from the fever dream of all that is not yet.
What’s a season of waiting for? Maybe as much about relishing what is to come as about being with where we are now. I wonder if this might be what the Psalmist is encouraging when she speaks directly to God in verse 4: “with you, there is forgiveness” and to Israel, in verse 7: “put your hope in the Lord…with the Lord is unfailing love.” Perhaps to this Psalmist, hoping is less about imagining the future, and more about calling God’s presence into the midst of where we are.
She’s imploring God to be with us - not to be there, but to be here.
Spend some time today grounding in the place where you are and inviting God to be with you there. You might contemplate your surroundings with your senses, experience the weather and current season, or learn about your local ecosystem and geography. You might connect with a neighbor or animal with whom you share this place. Notice what happens.
Where might God be, in this place, as we wait?
“Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord. Lord, hear my voice!” We join our voices with the Psalmist’s, Lord, to cry out to you as we wait. Stay true to your character, God, do not leave us alone where we are. Fill the places we inhabit. Instill us with hope. Be with us as we wait - here, now. Amen.
About the Author
Amanda Munroe is passionate about embodied spirituality and transformative change. Amanda identifies as a queer Christian with radical politics and a contemplative spiritual practice, and has extensive experience facilitating, teaching, and providing spiritual care in culturally diverse, interfaith settings, especially within the contexts of social movements. She is currently pursuing ordination in the United Methodist Church. Amanda holds an M.A. in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University and will graduate in May, 2023 with an M.Div in Ministerial Leadership & Interreligious Engagement from Union Theological Seminary in New York City.
March 26 - April 1, 2023