21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah, and wondered at his delay in the sanctuary.
22When he did come out, he could not speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He kept motioning to them and remained unable to speak.23When his time of service was ended, he went to his home.
There is a lot of “waiting” in Advent. Zechariah and Elizabeth are waiting for an end to their childless state. The people outside the sanctuary are waiting for their priest to reappear. All of Israel is waiting for their messiah to come.
Most of the time we are waiting for something to change. There is some aspect of our present situation we find difficult, painful, or just uncomfortable. We hope something will change and circumstances will fall more into line with our liking.
To wait is to stand between what was and what is yet to be. We call this “liminal space.” Liminal comes from the latin liminus which means threshold. Waiting is a threshold place. What was has ended, what is yet to be has not fully come into being.
It is tempting to want to rush back into the old room. If only we could recreate the past, return to the days when things felt secure, when we knew how the game was played.
Or, perhaps we are more inclined to rush ahead into the new room. We press for immediate change. We look for the quick-fix solution and determine to charge ahead.
Zechariah did not resolve anything. He simply “went to his home.” Nothing was fixed. There was no clear way forward. He just went back to waiting.
Waiting is the discipline of liminal space. It means sitting still in the midst of uncertainty, doubt, and confusion. To wait is to hold this present moment and see what emerges.
Not all the pieces of the puzzle have found their perfect place. There are things that remain unclear and ambiguous. I need to live with the pieces that do not easily fit. I need to resist the temptation to force each piece into place before the way ahead has become clear.
What am I waiting for?
What helps me sit peacefully with the unresolved realities of life?