“Teach us to care and not to care. Teach us to sit still.” —T. S. Eliot, Ash Wednesday
I spent several years as a member of the “Lead, follow or get the hell out of my way” club. Then I realized that wasn’t the kind of power I wanted in my life. Whatever the challenge or task or problem, the result is different and usually much better when we shift from control to collaboration. As the African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
These days, I’m working with a different piece of decision-making...the not making a choice simply because it’s more comfortable or convenient perspective. Most times, I’ve discovered, the best option on the big stuff emerges as the result of quiet pondering and not immediate, dynamic action. It’s far from procrastination. The time spent has its own quiet intensity. But something important comes from that personal refusal to move/pronounce/decide simply to release the pressure.
I think it’s what Reinhold Niebuhr was saying when he wrote the “tricky” third part of the Serenity prayer. There’s the serenity to accept piece…and the courage to change part…and then there’s that wisdom to know the difference kicker. And that takes processing.
Jungian analyst Marion Woodman calls it “holding the tension.” It’s the not jumping in…the tough love…the standing firm. And it’s not easy.
That’s the understanding that hit my heart when I saw the T. S. Eliot quote on this Corpus Christ seawalk bench. And that’s my understanding of Ash Wednesday, whether we view it in the traditional religious sense or as a spiritual process.
Sometimes, the wisdom is in the waiting.