Pray, Rest, Wait

When the storm threatens, a man is afraid for his house … But when the house is destroyed, there is some thing to do. About a storm he can do nothing, but he can rebuild a house.

Cry, the Beloved Country p. 140

The waiting. The what ifs. The helplessness in the face of what is more powerful than us. What do we do? Fear? Worry? The nothing-we-can-do often leads to fear and worry. The calamity past—even in the face of destruction—can, if we have not succumbed to despair, focus our attention. The destruction gives us purpose. We are wired from creation to till and toil, to be busy about making beauty from chaos. We struggle with waiting for the unknown. This is why the media deal in fear and not the creation of beauty. When we live in fear, we struggle to focus our attention on the things around us that we can do to make the world a better place. And that is what the media wants: men and women failing to respond to the immediate chaos around them. 

We struggle to wait. Yet we also struggle at times to rebuild. We survey the damage as Kumalo did and see an impossibility, a too-late-to-rebuilld paralyzation that rivals the fear of the unknown. And the despair feeds on doubts and grows, feeds on circumstances and grows, feeds on incomplete information and grows. And we need someone to shake us out of our inability to take a step, to push forward. But forward where? To work? No—to God. For only he can empower the rebuilding through changing our heart. Thus Father Vincent’s rebuke: “Stop, cried Father Vincent. You are beside yourself. Go and pray, go and rest. And do not judge your son to quickly.”

Three commands: Center yourself on God. Take care of the physical reality: tiredness does not lead to healthy spirituality. And don’t assume the worst; don’t draw conclusions on incomplete data. Pray, rest, wait. All of this is a command to trust before rebuilding. 

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