Shirin McArthur

prayerful pondering

Anticipation and Expectation

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DSC_1642This week’s hike was filled with wildflowers. Although it hasn’t rained for about ten days now, there’s been enough moisture to get the plants flowering, at least along the area where we walked. We saw some familiar wildflowers, but also many that we did not recognize. As we were completing our hike, my companion laughingly said that the bar was now set pretty high for these hikes, with fossils one week and abundant wildflowers the next.

Without in any way denigrating my friend—because she said this in a light-hearted manner—her comment got me thinking about expectations. So often our expectations and assumptions lead to disappointment—whether it’s something as simple as expecting to really enjoy a special meal, or something as complex and expensive as enjoying “the event of a lifetime” or a long-anticipated vacation.

I think the key lies in how we approach these events in our lives. It’s one thing to look forward to something with anticipation: wondering what it will be like, curious about what we will see, do, or experience. It’s something else entirely to assume how it will turn out, expect exactly what we will enjoy, or believe that we know precisely how an event or experience will unfold.

When we approach something with anticipation, we bring wonder and “fresh eyes” to what could be an “old” experience—like hiking some particular trail—and find it brand new because of the fleeting presence of wildflowers. When we approach something with expectation, we bring our agenda about what we will experience, which often has the effect of metaphorically closing our eyes to new and unusual experiences—and perhaps even literally preventing our brains from registering something new which our eyes might otherwise see.

What would it be like, today and in the days ahead, for you to let go—as much as possible—of all assumptions about how your days will go and expectations as to what you will experience? What if you opened your eyes, and the eyes of your heart, to welcome new experiences, new sights, with anticipation?

How might that openness lead you to see God’s creation, and the gifts inherent in each day, in a new light?

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