Synodality and Waiting

Have you ever had the experience of waiting for a response from someone?  It may have been waiting on your boss’s response to a project proposal, or a response to a request to your parents, a challenge or critique to a friend, a love note to a girl or boyfriend, a submitted application form, or an invitation. 

Waiting belongs to a liminal space, a between and betwixt space, a space of vulnerability, a space in which control and predictability are arrested. It’s a space in which you anticipate a verbal or action response.  This space ranges from the short time-space of greeting someone and awaiting a reaction to the long time-space of writing someone a critical note and looking out for a reply.

Waiting is a dark yet transformable space. It’s dark because the bright lights of control and predictability are extinguished. You are alone in the space, unaware of where to turn, what to do, or how to move toward. It’s the tomb of the dead body awaiting the resurrection of someone’s response – a response that may or may not arise. Whatever happens, we use this liminal moment as a moment of transformation, allowing it not to emotionally emasculate us, but empower us.  

If dialogue and discernment are at the core of the synodal journey, then understanding the nature and spirituality of waiting is crucial. Waiting is that space between the ebb of an initiative, such as sharing, and the flow of someone’s response. On occasions the timing of responses is unpredictable. It may be immediate or delayed, and there are factors determining the rate of response. It may be based on personality types, or the way in which the person receives or understands the initiative, or other practical circumstances such as unavailability or the malfunctioning of the means of communication. In that time-space, we sometimes ask, “Where’s my God?”

Whatever the circumstances, however, if there’s an ebb then synodal participation requires a flow. A permanent lack of response or poor response is like destroying a bridge connecting a valley or building an inadequate bridge for crossing.  While waiting offers opportunities for growth, permanent waiting stalls the movement of the synodal journey of the People of God.

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