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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Waiting

It seems we are all waiting for something. Whether it be our next meal, or some intangible thing that will change our lives forever.

I have been reminded recently of the power of waiting and the good it can do. I think I'd better start by saying that I hate waiting. It is one of the most uncomfortable and excruciating things I do. I try to distract myself and skip to the end with a thousand tricks that I play on myself to help me bear the unbearable burden of trying to control something that is so hilariously out of my control.

Sometimes I think that I wait because I have reached the end of what I can do and therefore can do nothing else except wait. However, I think that even when I am forced to wait, or I'm angry or afraid or anxious for something present to be over or something new to come, I am doing something more than just waiting. I am being forced to hope; practicing hopefulness; looking forward to something else because I am not satisfied that where I am is the end of the journey. The very act of waiting is what belies our hopes: the things we wait for would not mean as much to us if we were not willing to wait for them and through waiting, we assign value. I think those moments between what we look forward to and where we are, are when we wait, and when we wait, we hope. However, I do not think that is automatic to hope during a time of waiting; I am convinced that it is, and it must be like so many other things in life, a choice. Also, as a sidenote, it is not cowardly to wait or to hope: it is an enormous risk, and sometimes requires more courage than trying your best to 'make something happen,' simply because it is one of the most vulnerable places a human being can be in. And vulnerability takes bravery. It is no accident that the only thing left in Pandora's Box was hope: its dangerous.

Life is not always pleasant, or fun, or exciting. I know I spend a lot of time trying to escape from doldrums that I have found on my seas, or run through the times that I should really walk through; times when things around me are good and I will not notice them. I know that it is not pleasant, or fun, or exciting to wait, and waiting is when all of our expectations and comparisons and impatience and ambition rise up in bitter protest, and the frustration of trying gauge the distance to an interminable goal is sometimes as disheartening as the disappointment we feel when we reach them. But it is not by accident that 'its worth the wait' has turned into a cliche, and its not an accident that most cliches are true. I think there are a lot of things in life that are worth waiting for because at the end of the wait is something that truly silences disappointments and expectations and fears, and anything that can do that is worth quite a lot.

I think it is also important, with all this talk about hope, to say that I think what you wait and hope for is just as important as the wait itself. Obviously I hope that anything I hope for that will do me harm will never come, and those miraculous life-giving things will come faster, but it also matters who I wait and hope for. I hope in people, and for people, and with people. However, as much as I want to be with people and trust in people, I must say that the Bible, as always, says it best:  "Wait upon the Lord," the Psalmist tells us, "Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord." Again, in Isaiah: "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up on wings like eagles."

The last lines of The Count of Monte Cristo have stuck with me over the years. They are words of advice from a old man to a younger and they are especially relevant right now: "Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget that, until the day God deigns to reveal the future to man, the sum of human wisdom will be contained in these two words: wait and hope."

Though it is not easy and doesn't seem sexy or anything other than a waste of time, I hope that I can embrace the waiting in my life as something valuable and misunderstood. Everyone is waiting for something and I hope we always will be.

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