Home » Personal Musings » Thursday Re-View — “The In-Between Time”

Thursday Re-View — “The In-Between Time”

It’s in the in-between
that the real magic happens.
The seeds are planted,
the roots take hold…
and we blossom into who
we were meant to be.

~ Kristen Jongen

I’m not good at this in-between time. That’s where I am at the moment. Since a health scare prompted me to take a “time out” from working as Director of a Counseling Center in a small, private college in late December, I’ve been on hold as far as contributing to the Gross National Product.

And since patience never was one of my strong suits, I’m none too happy with not getting up at 6:30 every morning, coming home at 6:30 at night, having done my part to save the world.

Some of you who follow me know that I expected big things from my health care professional retreat to Assisi, Italy this month (“My Pilgrimage to ????”).

While there, I expected nothing less in the town of St. Francis’ birth than for the heavens to open and rain wisdom down upon my thirsty soul, giving me detailed instructions on where/what/when/how I would be doing for the rest of my life. Give me my Divine Missive and I will obediently carry it out to the letter, and beyond.

I want a lightning bolt to strike the ground directly in front of me with the answer to my impatient question of, “Now what?????”



My therapist has respectfully suggested that perhaps my imagery of a lightning bolt striking directly in front of me might need to be modified.

Let me explain.

Since my husband’s illness prevented us from going on retreat, my pilgrimage was one of hospitals and doctor’s offices and bedside vigils. Now that he is slowly recovering…I’m ready for the lightning bolt.

Now what???

I can still hear my therapist, Dr. G, saying, “Theresa, I don’t like that image – the lightning bolt.” He’s trying to be polite and professional. That works for awhile. “That’s too much like a defibrillator!!! You need to use something more calming for the imagery – like a sunset, or a sunrise.”

My feet came off the floor as I burst out laughing. He and I have been through a lot together (…bless him…), ever since I first met him and, barely having sat down, informed him, “You have 6 months for me to get through this ‘whatever.'”

He tried to be polite and professional back then as well. “Theresa, perhaps putting a time limit on the therapy might add more stressors to your life?”

Don’t you just hate it when people are right???

Perhaps putting a time limit on my in-between time will also add more stressors to my life. And stressors are what sidelined me in the first place.

So now I have to let go of one of my all-time favorite symbols – my lightning bolt – and attach myself to something (unlike the defibrillator paddles) more soothing, more peaceful, less shocking, less startling.

Something without a sense of urgency or that won’t be seen as an intrusion; something that will simply allow answers and inspiration to come forward slowly, in their own time, bringing me to a “new and stronger Theresa.”

[Whew! Is this the kind of stuff I tell my patients/clients/students?]

So naturally, I start thinking.

[That’s another thing my therapist has observed; when he presents an idea, I “run with it like a German Shepherd, dragging my owner behind me.” I’m not sure if that was praise or censure, but I’m still going to run with it.]

And in thinking, I recall my time working in the trauma bays of a near-by hospital (“Of Hospitals, Loss and Love” and “Wounded Hearts” ), when a man was brought in with extensive burns from electrocution. The palm of one of his hands was the exit point of the bolt of electricity, and it had blown open a hole where you could see blackened skin, tendons, muscle and blood.

Burned. Charred. Unrecognizable.

This is what I was praying for? Asking for? A lightning bolt?

Maybe not such a good idea.

So here I am in the in-between time, impatiently waiting for a lightning bolt beautiful sunset to remind me that all good things come to those who wait. To have patient trust in whatever has been written for me, even before I was born.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

Do I go back to Hospice, working with people as they make the “graceful passage” from this life to the next (“You Are My Sunshine” and “The Last Good-bye?”)?

Do I return to Community Mental Health, where people are in desperate need of just about everything (“The Welcome Angel” and “I Wasn’t Enough...”)?

Do I return to a college campus, where students struggle to carve out an identity (“An Adolescent’s Christmas with the Infant of Prague“)?

Do I open a private psychotherapy practice?

Do I volunteer in an international setting?

Do I venture forth as a motivational speaker?

Do I continue my blog?

Do I finally write the book I’ve always wanted to, something to uplift and inspire and offer hope?

Or do I simply continue as is, taking care of my family and myself, working my way through the grief of the vast losses that took hold of my life in the past 14 months (“Remembrance II” and “Who Will Remember?”)?

What is enough? What is too much? Where do I belong?

I’m not good at the in-between time.

The time between who I was and who I am yet to be.

The time between chapters…between birth and rebirth…between death and resurrection…

But above all, I am a listener. A co-journeyer.

The seeds have been planted, the roots have taken hold, and I have only to blossom in another setting, with another offering of my self.

I will wait in the quiet. I will listen for the whispers. I will keep watch for the soft glow of the banked embers that is the fire in my soul.

I will open and stretch to the golds and oranges of the welcoming sunrises. I will rest, bathed in the muted purples and pinks of the sunsets.

I will be still and know that I am.

And that will be enough.

For now….

Come. Who will journey with me?


Kristen Jongen

Kristen Jongen

20 thoughts on “Thursday Re-View — “The In-Between Time”

  1. Hmm, quite a few questions there Theresa. I’d be holding off on the lightning bolt though. Remember we do get what we ask for. 🙂

    • On a good day, I am at peace with the Divine Plan. On a not-so-good day, the frustration and impatience temporarily win out. Something that has helped me immensely in the past few weeks: Teilhard de Chardin’s prayer, “Patient Trust.” You can see it below in William’s comments. Blessings to you in this part of your journey…

  2. Wow. You basically summed up where I am right now, including the impatience. I had the lightening bolt image also (although mine was closer to the light that hit St. Paul :-). I am in a Zombie zone in my current career and relationships, but about to enter into a spiritual and psychological journey that will likely result in major transitions. I just want to the fog to clear so I have a clear path forward.

    In your case, you have many good options and will be successful at whatever you do. On a selfish level, I hope you continue the blog and/or write a book as I look forward to your quotes every morning. In the mean time, I will share the Patience Prayer by Teilhard de Chardin, which happens to be taped to my refrigerator as a daily reminder for me:

    “Above all, trust in the slow work of God.

    We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We should like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.

    And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability—and that it may take a very long time.

    And so I think it is with you; your ideas mature gradually—let them grow, let them shape themselves, without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow.

    Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be. Give Our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.”


    W. Ockham

    • Talk about synchronicity!!! Last May, at my 8-day silent Ignatian retreat, I was given a copy of de Chardin’s “Patient Trust” to help me get through this “in-between time.” I filed it away and stayed with my more familiar, favorite prayers, and didn’t come across it again until about 2 weeks ago. When I read it, I realized it was entirely appropriate for me, right now. Who knew??? And I’ve had it for 9 months – maybe this was my gestational period? Now I have a copy by my bed and next to my morning-cup-of-coffee- chair, kind of like you have yours on the refrigerator. So as we both move forward through this transition stage, I send you blessings, hope, peace and patience for the journey ahead. With de Chardin’s prayer, we will be properly led to our own miracles. Be well.

  3. I am going to give you a nomination for an ABC Award. I find a lot of good faithful and caring communication here. I feel renewed from your own soul searching. We are all in this together, on our walk of faith, searching for Grace. Thanks, it will be posted today or tomorrow… Smiles and thank you for this thoughtful post, Theresa! Robin

    • Robin – my thanks for this nomination and your kind words, but I’ve had to become “award free” because of time constraints. I am grateful that you thought of Soul Gatherings and send blessings…

  4. You summed up what a lot of us feel or have felt or will feel on this journey. The key is waiting but I’m learning that it’s waiting without preconceived expectations. If we are looking at only the options we can come up with, like a horse with blinders, we’ll miss what the Lord may be sending beyond the edge of the blinders. It’s like trying to imagine what’s around the corner before you get to the corner, and then when you get there you are looking so hard for what you expected that you don’t really see what’s there. I’m looking forward to staying with you on your journey and pray that your health is restored and your wait time for new direction is short. Blessings, Natalie 🙂

    • I like “waiting without preconceived expectations,” Natalie. Words of wisdom that I will remember as I wait (and wonder). Thank you for your prayers; they are greatly appreciated.

    • Now that cuts right to the chase, as they say. William (above comment) wants to see a book, too. Maybe there’s a message to be heard in this? Be well, Nora – so good to hear from you.

  5. Instead of a lightning bolt, what do you think of this image? It came to my mind re. you:
    an echo. You standing before a vast valley (the universe, the world, Life) waiting for an echo of yourself to reply to you.

    Thanks, Theresa.

    As the kids say “Keep doin’ whatcha doin;”

    • I like that image, Claire, especially since echoes are resilient and keep repeating until you get it. Sometimes I need what I call God’s 2 x 4 effect to get my attention. An echo fits… Thanks, as always, for reading and commenting.

  6. An epiphany will be coming: I imagine this in-between time is meant as rest, as solace, as time to accept and remember. Time to feel, appreciate and savor the sunlight, the sound of water and wind. You sound like someone with a need to be needed, a need to be connected, a need to hear and to give comfort, and I’m not sure that writing a book will give you that connection in an immediate way. Perhaps you need to do more than one thing. Work part-time in a clinic or with adolescents privately maybe. Then you would have time to try out some new possibilities, start writing a book, take a speaking engagement, maybe starting with a conference… so much joy in being able to call the shots, and in not being in a hurry to decide. And deciding between different alternatives is easier with more data. Just a few thoughts I had while enjoying catching up with you. I loved your quote. I feel like using it for a story. Would you mind? Warmly, Brenda

    • Brenda – feel free to use Kristen Jongen’s quote; I love it, too. Your suggestions are perceptive and ring true – this can be viewed as a very positive time if I can just get past the part of my identity that has always been fueled by achievement. You are right in that I need several things to stimulate me – teaching, giving workshops, writing, volunteering and counseling are my favorites. Patient trust in the process as I recoup my energies and redirect them; wish me luck! I thank you so very much for taking the time to share your words of wisdom.

      • Life as a road is a good analogy, but not if it makes you feel like you have to stick with only one path. I think you will follow your heart and choose wisely. Thanks, I will use the quote one day soon. 🙂

  7. Pingback: The In-Between | Friendly Fairy Tales

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