The Waiting Game
I've been trying to get better at waiting. I’m one of those awful drivers who keeps moving from lane to lane when I’m stuck in traffic, hoping to gain those precious two inches of road. For those who feel perpetually crunched for time, waiting is that exhausting limbo between one seemingly important activity and another.
A little while ago, I was at a friend’s house to celebrate her son’s birthday. We were waiting for others to arrive before we left to go to the zoo. This kid loves the zoo. And as we were waiting for his party to get started, he sighed with delight and said, “This is the best moment of my life!” We were just standing in is living room, basically doing nothing. But while many of us get stuck in that irritation of waiting, he was relishing it. It was the expectation of the goodness to come, the fact that any second, we were about to go experience what, according to him was the best thing in the whole universe.
We can learn a lot about waiting from kids. Not that they’re better at it than we are; anyone who has ever hung out with a four-year-old knows that that’s not the case. But kids are so much more excited in moments of waiting than we are. Just look into the eyes of children who can hardly stand it that it’s not quite Christmas, yet. Waiting is a source of joy and anticipation, not some irritating space between one thing and another. So many times, kids are present to the here and now in ways that adults forget. I don't know when we learn to stop being present, when we start obsessively wandering around in what-could-have-happened or what-comes-next.
The experience of my spiritual life is that, when I'm praying with the Divine, I experience a spectrum of answers within me and within the world. Sometimes, I feel like I'm getting a clear yes or no from God. Often, it's somewhere in between, and requires some kind of waiting. Sometimes, that holding pattern is painful. The waiting that comes with loss, with heartache, with disappointment or rejection.
And yet, where I am, is not who I am. What I am doing does not define who I am becoming. What I have lost does not define where I may go. It is fallow earth, waiting for spring. New blossoms are beautiful, but so is barren soil, covered in freshly fallen snow.