Waiting for the Light: Mastery Inactivity
In clinical medicine, there is a very powerful treatment called mastery inactivity. An experienced clinician knows that there are times in the management of a patient with a serious medical condition that the best treatment is not to do anything but allow time for nature to take its course. This is the hardest treatment to prescribe because it involves the physician not doing anything. The default mode is to do something. Order some form of treatment. Perform some form of surgery. Our hearts are restless and we associate activity with progress. Not to act is a sign that we are negligent or indifferent.
This is also what happens when we are hit with some catastrophes in our lives. In such situation, we are full of an urgency to act. An urgency to do something to get us out of the situation. Anything at all, even though the action may not be beneficial or at times may cause harm. An alternative option is to sit idly by and ride out the storm. Judy Brown creates a scenario in which we are caught in a stormy sea and where inaction may be more beneficial than reactive action.
There is a trough in waves,
And there we lose our way
We rest, knowing the wave will bring us
Hold us within its grip and shake us
And leave us flailing, torn, disoriented.
The low part of the wave,
Noticing the shape of things,
Horizon, see the land again,
And where we need to swim.
The Sea Accepts All Rivers
, Judy Brown
This is what I called mastery inactivity. It takes knowledge and wisdom to discern when to act and when not to act. It requires mastery over our emotions as the default mode is to do something. It also requires faith. The sailor in the storm has faith based on her knowledge of the waves. We need to have faith that our catastrophes will blow over, that we need to remain calm in the eye of the storm. And we need to have faith in Him who is able to calm the storm and walk on water.
There are an ebb and flow in the rhythm of our lives; a time to act and a time to cease from action; a time to do and a time to rest; and a time to stress and a time to distress. That is the only way to ride a storm. This is what Advent is all about. It is a time of inaction, rest and reflection. It is a flashback to more than two thousand years ago when the whole of creation kept still and held its collective breath, and waited for the Light. We live in a broken world, at the bottom of the cesspool, in the trough of pain and suffering. Let us wait together. Wait for a glimpse of the sky. Wait for the Light and then lean into it.
Labels: Advent, Spiritual Formation, spiritual formation communities