Waiting for the Light





Alex Tang



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Waiting for the Light: Mastery Inactivity

Advent 2015 reflection

Dr Alex Tang

In clinical medicine, there is a very powerful treatment called master 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 often 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,

A low spot

Where horizon disappears

And only sky

And water

Are our company.


And there we lose our way


We rest, knowing the wave will bring us

To its crest again.


There we may drown

If we let fear

Hold us within its grip and shake us

Side to side,

And leave us flailing, torn, disoriented.


But if we rest there

In the trough,

Are silent,

Being with

The low part of the wave,


Our energy and

Noticing the shape of things,

The flow,

Then time alone

Will bring us to another


Where we can see

Horizon, see the land again,

Regain our sense

Of where

We are,

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.


Soli Deo Gloria


12 November 2015



"treat, heal, and comfort always"

 "spiritual forming disciples of Jesus Christ with informed minds, hearts on fire and contemplative in actions"  


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