The Art of Waiting

Lake at dawn, waiting for sunrise

Week Three: Saturday

The year of 2020 will no doubt go down in history with many different names, none very complimentary, but if I could name it, I’d call it “The Year of Waiting.”  We have all waited to see how a pandemic would unfold, having never experienced one before.  We have waited, and are waiting, to be with friends and family again. We have waited for the announcement of a vaccination.  Now we are waiting our turn to receive one and waiting to see if others will also do so and waiting to see what our reactions to one will be.  We have waited for the results of a national election, which have been announced over and over, and yet here we are, still waiting.  We are waiting to see what a new administration will be able to accomplish.  We are waiting, and waiting, and we do not appreciate it.

Since our family won’t be gathering at Christmas, my husband and I packed up Christmas packages at home and mailed them (USPS) on December 8 to our son and his family and to our daughter, spending her first Christmas ever alone in a new city.  Surely, December 8 would be plenty of time for their gifts to arrive. 

Apparently not. As of today, ten days later, we have no idea, even with tracking numbers, where the packages are, other than “en route.”  We could have biked the gifts there by now. To add insult to injury, I ordered a special gift on Amazon over two weeks ago, only to receive a notice today that it had been “lost.”  I can ask for a refund or “wait” to see if it shows up.  I have tried not to grind my teeth.  We Americans are not good at waiting.  The Covid numbers tell us so. We want what we want when we want it.  We have lost that fine art, that practice, of waiting, much to our spiritual detriment and mental health. 

When we look at ancient guides, Zechariah and Elizabeth, Simeon and Anna, Joseph and Mary from the New Testament of the Bible come to mind as models to follow in the art of waiting.  Zechariah and Elizabeth, well past childbearing years, were met with the news that they would have an extraordinary son, for whom they had to wait. Zechariah learned the fine art of waiting while being unable to speak for nine months. Perhaps that’s part of method, being quiet. Mary and Joseph waited to see what the coming of their own son would bring while no doubt caught in the middle of family and cultural turmoil, yet every day they did what they needed to do. Mary even took a trip to see her cousin Elizabeth and help her birth that extraordinary son instead of pouting and worrying about her own turn while she waited. Simeon and Anna, prophets, had waited their entire lives for a sign from God concerning the promised Messiah, and finally, finally, that sign arrived.  The method of their practice? Prayer.

In each case, waiting was not passive; it was not an idle time of twiddling thumbs and staring out windows.  Woven throughout these stories are people who waited with patience; people who waited with hope and a purpose; people who waited with trust; people who waited with conviction that something really was about to happen; people who kept watch for the promise and prepared for that promise.  Their examples are models for us, in whatever waiting season we find ourselves.

I know so many people right now who are waiting for light in the darkness: for answers to medical treatments; for businesses and schools and places of worship to reopen; for reunions with family and friends; for healings (emotional, physical, spiritual) to occur; for loved ones to die and for loves one to recover; for new paths to reveal themselves; for reconciliations and new beginnings; for a return to some kind of life that will feel familiar; for the coming of the Light. I know what I am awaiting, just as you know what you are.

Is it too miraculous to wonder if we might wait like our ancient guides?  If we might practice that art of waiting with patience, hope, trust, conviction, and awareness instead of resistance, angst, and denial?  Are we able to place time, however it is to unfold, into the hands of God, the Universe, or whatever we deem bigger than ourselves?

I trust that our packages will get delivered, if not by Christmas (which is my ego-driven wish) than in good time.  But there are much greater waitings that call us into participation with these guides and that offer us opportunities to set aside all our ego-driven wishes. In this season of moving toward the Light, may we be granted the wisdom of our ancient guides and learn to wait, as the angels proclaimed, without fear.  Blessings to you.

Published by rosemarymcmahan

Poet, writer, minister, traveler on the way

3 thoughts on “The Art of Waiting

  1. Our Archbishop Melissa recently spoke of “waiting” (and its cousin, “frustration”) in a sermon. She recommended five practices: Slowing down, e.g., in a daily activity taking time to be intentional in the actions, she gave an example in pouring/stirring coffee/tea; walking outside daily and noticing creation intentionally; writing something down daily, e.g., a thought or reflection; doing one thing daily for someone else; and praying. She is an American and will soon retire after seven years as Bishop and Archbishop of the Diocese of New Westminster (British Columbia). She completely gets the difficulties with waiting and yet so wisely, like you, Rosemary, shows us a way to practice the Art of Waiting. Many thanks for your reflection!
    Ps: we’re waiting for a delivery as well. Canada Post is notorious for messing with the art of waiting!

    Liked by 1 person

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