To wait is to partake of the human condition.
To wait patiently is to become like the divine.
Why do we feel so put upon, so grated against when waiting is required or requested of us? And yet, every created thing on earth is subject to seasons or periods of waiting. That we feel we should be exempt from a waiting season is perhaps unjustified and irrational.
So then, since we are not exempt from this great equalizer, we acquiesce and assent: we will always be subject to the ‘waiting rooms‘ of life. Waiting puts us at dis-ease because to wait is to witness the passing of a most precious commodity: our time. And to be human is to experience the tides of time propelling us forward. Onward always time sweeps us unceasingly closer to the shores of our desires and fears or it pushes us further away from the ports of our comforts and homelands.
Waiting can be the most intense and poignant of all human experiences—the experience which, above all others, strips us of affectation and self-deception and reveals to us the reality of our needs, our values, and ourselves.
Perhaps the problem we have with ‘waiting’ arises from the meaning we attach to it. For myself, I am learning that to wait with impatience is to disdain the chain which anchors me to the present moment. And our modern culture informs us how best to keep time; to make the most of time is to not waste it in waiting.
We are taught to keep ourselves busy…and distractions of each sort beg for entrance into our moments; mindless entertainments promise to fill our every idleness. Additionally, I believe our modern mind struggles with waiting because we equate waiting with inactivity. And inactivity is deemed an unacceptable waste because we perceive it a detour from the tasks of our own busyness…from rowing ourselves towards the desired shoreline of our next appointment, goal or aspiration.
Now that I think about this, I am becoming aware that it is during the times of my enforced waiting, whether due to sickness, misfortune or deviation from plans made, when waiting feels like the traversing of a wasteland….and I am as one who is adrift on the open sea of innumerable minutes, hours, and days; alone and afloat in my little boat with no oars, a slow leak and only my own thoughts for companion.
Perhaps this is why I (we) so strongly resist life’s waiting rooms, because it is in this place wherein we must sit in such close proximity to self. To wait patiently, cheerily, is to trust that this time of seeming inactivity is an opportunity to grow…to expand…to enlarge…in our relationship. And not only in relationship with our self but also with the others who paddle their boats so near to us.
It is strange that the years teach us patience; that the shorter our time,
the greater our capacity for waiting.
So I have taken these moments today, to try to teach myself again how to be comfortable in the ‘waiting room’. Of course there are abundant opportunities every day to school myself on this topic. You too, no doubt, have similar opportunities.
Consider some of life’s waiting rooms: the lines we stand in queue; the weekday commuter traffic in which we drive; waiting for school or medical test outcomes to be revealed; a vacation hoped for; planing for a move, or birth, new job or marriage; wading through personal wreckage of a failure or loss.
So in waiting I am learning that it is possible to wait with peace and purpose; because in waiting I have found songs to sing; wounds to bind; corners to sweep; weeds to pull; seeds to plant; poetry to write; tears to wipe; arms to hug; prayers to pray; hands to hold; legs to run; dreams to imagine; hurts to forgive; grace to notice; love to make; joy to share; and life to live…whether I’m waiting or not.