Stillness and Creation
Every religious tradition has holy days that are anticipated. People can be impatient for the day or days to arrive. They occur only if effort has been expended. Planning may be elaborate, accomplished by many or few. If we attend the holy day with no spiritual preparation, we are likely to be spectators not participants. That diminishes the opportunity to be spiritually sustained.
Waiting for Godot is a vexing and intriguing play by Samuel Beckett, an Irish playwright and novelist. Its characters are frustratingly dispirited. They lack vision and purpose.
Two men are on stage as Waiting for Godot begins. Vladimir's and Estragon’s appearances are disheveled. Their conversations seem to go nowhere. They are in suspended animation. Each believes a man named Godot is to arrive. A child appears to say Godot is coming the next day. The child attests to having seen him, but the characters and audience don’t get evidence that he exists. What if he doesn’t? Then their waiting is fruitless.
How fruitful is your spiritual waiting? Not everyone sees a reason to do more than show up. It takes too much effort to prepare. What’s coming is coming.
Christians read biblical passages explicitly prophesying that Jesus the Christ will return. As in all prophecies, details are limited. Many texts describe a less than happy result of his coming. The writer in the letter of James minces no words for those who have gotten rich off the labor of others. “On earth you’ve had a life of comfort and luxury; you’ve been fattening yourselves for the day of slaughter” (James 5:5).For the ones who live God’s message of justice and mercy it is a day of celebration. Their preparation is ongoing.
In Waiting for Godot Vladimir and Estragon are clueless about what Godot looks like. An impersonator might appear: the result being either harm or disaster. Godot could arrive, and because the twosome doesn’t know what he looks like, they completely miss his appearance: their waiting in vain. They can be thrown off by the unexpected. What if Godot is not a man? How do they respond if Godot is a woman looking for food, poorly dressed, and unwashed?
For the Christian, Godot can be God. We wait. Godot doesn’t come. The characters signify the meaningless of waiting by doing nothing to reverse their fates. The first words by Estragon are, “Nothing to be done.” Vladimir and Estragon squander their time.
Spiritual growth requires stillness and creation. They are inseparable. They require intentionality.
When are you still, waiting with receptiveness?
When are you creative, bringing into being what nourishes yourself and the world?
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