Week 46 / 47: meanwhile

Meanwhile: “in the intervening period of time”

The word “meanwhile”… in the meantime, not yet, in between…

Do you ever feel in a perpetual state of “meanwhile”? Waiting and hoping but always only that—waiting and hoping without seeing or knowing what you’re waiting and hoping for.

For some of us, it’s something (or someone) very specific. For others, it’s only a vague but ever present sense of “more,” even if we cannot name it exactly, or at all. For a few, it’s both.

“Meanwhile” is a state short of the peace or love or success or acceptance or transition or season we desire or know awaits. But it is where we are, without the result (whether thing or person), so it must be good in its own way. For even if or when we surpass the meanwhile of our season, does not another meanwhile await us? Life is one meanwhile, then another, and another…

If we cannot learn to live with this persistent reality of “meanwhile” (which will inevitably be with all of us), then our only course is hopelessness. If we learn to not only live with but embrace this reality, our lives will be full of love for what’s in front of us, our hearts will be full of gratitude for what is, no matter what is not (yet).

If we focus only on what is not (yet), we will miss much of what love, truth, goodness, and beauty there already is. 

What is it like to be so free and detached that our desires (what we don’t have) can cease to control us, and thus we can begin. I want to live in the “meanwhile,” in a sense without hope, so I can accept whatever is and be surprised at and grateful for what is unexpected.

Where is that place of tension—of hope and pursuing the not yet, while accepting what is and being content with what is not (and may never be)?

Is it not enough just to see, to love, to hold, to be present and aware, accepting good or ill or other than we think we want or need?

What we have in this very moment is just what is—we can have nothing else. There will always be more, no matter how many arrivals and forward strides we make. There’s always a distant horizon, no matter how many steps we take, no matter where we end up in life’s landscape.

And there’s always the place we are—right here and now. Where the earth is right beneath us, loving us and asking to be loved; a God receiving any gratitude we give for what we have—right here and now.

This is not fatalism or blind acceptance of evil or injustice. It’s simple awareness and appreciation of our present, a redirecting of our attention from the horizon to our blessed, beautiful moment; even if this moment is filled with some (or much) unfulfilled longing and unreached desire. 

We need not reach the stars to be present with their light and wonder. Neither need we reach all of our longings and desires to know the peace and rest of a wonderful, light-filled existence in the “meanwhile.”

“…Whenever I get home—whenever— // somebody loves me there. / Meanwhile / I stand in the same dark peace / as any pine tree, // or wander on slowly / like the still unhurried wind, / waiting, / as for a gift, // for the snow to begin / which it does / at first casually, / then, irrepressibly…” – Mary Oliver

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