Dwelling In-Between

Sometimes in our lives we are entering, and sometimes we’re exiting. We pass through periods of growth and periods of disintegration. And then there are the in-between times, which can be more unsettling than when everything falls apart.

At least when the familiar unravels, we can see what’s causing our sadness or distress. In between is a wintery place, a subterranean season. Any life or growth happens underground, out of sight, beyond our conscious reach.

In those parts of the world gathering their first layers of snow right now, people know that winter will not bend to their wills. It can be endured, dealt with—even enjoyed—but no one plants crops in winter. No amount of snow removal equipment makes it safe to drive quickly.

I noticed the arrival of an in-between time recently because of the absences that came with it—absence of ambition, absence of plans or planning, even a lack of concern about those missing attitudes. This isn’t the first in-between time in my life, but it’s the first time I’m not gnawing at it like an animal with its leg caught in a trap. This acceptance is all at once unnerving and unexpectedly peaceful.

Winter can be that way, too. Nothing quiets the soul like a gentle snowfall, but sliding through an intersection on black ice brings an immediate sense of panic.

Perhaps both feelings are responses to recognizing a lack of control. Recognizing and trusting gets me a dose of peace; recognizing and thinking I need to change something lands me squarely on the black ice.

Our culture does not teach us to “trust in the slow work of God,” as the theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin recommends. It teaches us to make things happen, to pursue what we want.

But winter is not a time for forcing change. The Earth is taking care of the bulbs and roots that will become green shoots and clenched buds impatient to open. And so in our in-between times, the Ground of our Being is tending the new life we as yet know nothing about. All we have to do is wait and enjoy the snowfall.

2 thoughts on “Dwelling In-Between

  1. Yes, how easily we forget THE SLOW WORK OF GOD…. lovely…. reading 11/30. Here comes Advent. It always brings me new energy from the start. I read a “fictional” (old Golden Book) to an “unchurched” 2 year old last week about the donkey who had been mistreated but for Joseph buying it to be his and Mary’s transport to Bethlehem. This story skipped the shepherds and angels but contained an image of 3 kings bowing down and bringing gifts. Then 1 angel told Joseph he’d better hit the road. And the donkey who’d been raised in Egypt knew JUST where to take the mother father and baby. The two year old whom I “adore” said, “Again, Grandma” and I obliged. There was no talk of God but he instinctively knew a True story when he heard it. The rest of the weekend he called “The Baby book” – Grandma Read. The Baby book! I will trust in the slow work of God both in claiming that 2 year old as God’s own and in my need to trust. Thanks.

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