I have been working around my house today while trying to think of some pithy or poignant story about waiting in response to this week’s “Who is My Neighbor” theme. But, the cold and hard truth is that I do not like to wait. I do not like to wait in line, or in traffic. I do not like waiting for my daughter to finish getting ready so we can get out the door in the morning. I do not like waiting for a phone call, nor for an email to be returned, and I absolutely cannot stand to wait when there is conversation that I want to have with someone, or some issue that in my mind needs to be resolved. Yesterday.
Alas, the flip side of my “jump right in with two feet” attitude toward life is that waiting makes me crazy, anxious, and admittedly, bored. Those are not the attributes of “Happy Sarah” and so, my waiting self is generally my cranky self. Or, perhaps, my waiting self can more appropriately be described as multi-tasking self now that my smartphone and iPad are pretty much 24/7 accessible to me. I tend to go right for them when a wait of any kind emerges. My devices never ask me to wait…well, unless its a weak signal and nothing wants to load, then back comes my cranky self yet again.
So, why am I writing this anti-waiting confessional on this week when the theme I am blogging about for my faith community is “Waiting with Anticipation”? Well, maybe that is because I am actively working on this very frustrating issue of navigating the “waiting game” right now. And, what I am learning is that the waiting game is really the ultimate act of being present.
On a small scale, I am waiting for my daughter to come home from camp. Professionally, I am waiting for the new semester…and all my students…to arrive in just a few more days. Regrettably, I am waiting to see if the pain in my tooth goes away with Sensodyne or if I need to have more dental work done. Hopefully, I am waiting to see more energy returning to my Mom’s health after a successful pacemaker placement. And, on a more grand scale, I am waiting and discerning about the next chapter in my professional vocation. That’s a lot of waiting for my impatient self to navigate.
And so, I find myself having to face up to waiting, and see within the waiting game an opportunity to be more present on a daily basis. While awaiting my daughter’s return from camp (especially today, on her birthday!) I have been redecorating her room and going through our old pictures and memories. I have been writing letters and sending care packages, imagining her opening them. This has given me a chance to feel connected in ways that are emotionally more present than I probably am during the daily rant of getting up on time and picking up her clutter. I appreciate her awesomeness, and her challenges, and I have become really, really grateful for the gift of being her Mom.
As for my students and my semester start up…I have been wrapping my head around what my priorities are and I realized today (with a bit of shock) that I am really excited about getting back into the swing of things. This is a “so much to do, so little time” kind of waiting, but the real point is that time will move on and these start up events will occur. I am planning out what I most want to grab ahold of and thinking about when I need to ride the wave of busy and when I need to be prepared to seize the moment. Allowing myself to anticipate those golden moments that will unexpectedly occur is keeping some of the overwhelming details at bay, and thus I am sleeping at night instead of obsessing about them. This is progress.
I keep praying for and sending encouraging thoughts to my Mom, and I have been given a gift of seeing her community of support wrap around her and my community of support wrap around me while she waits to feel healthier. I am grateful that this seems to be happening more and more each day. She also told me a story that after waiting for her surgery, the tuna sandwich they gave her in the recovery room was the best tasting tuna sandwich she had had. Ever. This made me laugh, but then I realized the truth in it. Life is sweeter when we have been reunited with something….food, people, health, even tuna salad it would seem. Maybe without the waiting game, those things of daily life would go by unnoticed and unappreciated. We might need waiting to more fully know the sweet life.
I have nothing to add about the tooth, since I just bit into a cold slice of tomato and almost hit the ceiling. Darn it. Going to pick up some more Sensodyne and get back to you on that one.
Last but not least, there is my grand waiting challenge during this period of reflection and discernment in my life, which some people reading this may not even know is happening. Well, it is. This particular wait is about coming to know all that I have been and am doing vocationally over the years, as well as waiting and praying and talking and discerning about what comes next in my vocational response to the world in which I live. This grand wait could be anxiety provoking, and definitely tests my patience and requires me to slow down and be present. In fact, the real gift in the waiting game at this moment may be to recognize what is happening in my day to day and being open and present to Spirit whenever opportunities emerge. These opportunities may be in the form of a blog inspiration, an unexpected conversation that sheds light on the path of another, an opportunity to dress up in old robes and a head scarf and tell the story of Ezekiel and the dry bones to a room full of kids at VBS, or to receive the wisdom offered to me from those who guide me spiritually and befriend me on the journey. If I cannot live in this waiting game, I cannot seize these moments. And those moments are indeed a brush with the divine, and a deeper knowledge of God.
And so, like so many others, I learn to wait. I practice being present and in hopeful anticipation, keeping my cranky self at bay. I tuck away the smartphone and take in what..and who…is around me. I respond the best I can to what I encounter in each moment and seize the golden ones with gratitude. And in waiting with anticipation…by living in the present moment…I move forward on the journey.