Somewhere in the churchyard of St. Paul’s cathedral, my husband sits in Sunday afternoon, waiting for his London hotel room to be prepared.
Further east, my youngest son Kyle lives in Sunday evening, waiting to go to bed to prepare for his fourth week of teaching in southeast Asia. I was able to hear a bit about his new life, during a 20 minute phone call last night — though I must confess that hearing the sound of his voice was just as good as hearing the news he shared.
Meanwhile, here I sat at home, a West living in the West, who waits in Sunday morning. For what do I wait?
I wait for Max to get well. Our standard poodle Max has been suffering a stomach upset from a bug picked up at doggie daycare this week, where the dogs went to play while our house was receiving a new roof. One of his canine sisters brought home the bug and now each has suffered the same ailments, with Max having last rites.
I wait for today’s family lunch, where remnants of family will gather around a local pub for lunch and a visit. It is always good to sit in the midst of people I love best in the world — to see their faces, their smiles; to hear their voices and snippets from their lives. I will try to enjoy the ones I’m with — rather than mourn the absence of those further afield.
I wait in prayer as Bryan, Amy and Amy’s sister Emily pack and load a moving van full of Bryan and Amy’s furniture. Soon, all their ‘must-haves’ for everyday life will find their proper place in the “new” vintage apartment that lies just a hop, skip and a jump from here. I pray for an injury-free transfer, for furniture is so very heavy and bulky. I pray for safety in driving an unfamiliar moving van. And sometimes I pray for something that I can’t quite name, though it rests near the lump of my throat.
All of these thoughts about waiting make me realize that much of my life is spent in a state of waiting. For the most part, mine is not an anxious, stress-filled waiting but rather an attempt to ride through the moment, to see how everyday life will unfold, to see where I will be carried by the river of God.
I’ve learned there is a spirituality of waiting, something picked up from the writings of Henri Nouwen, that I encountered as a first-year student of Heartpaths Spirituality Centre. Henri introduces his reflections on waiting with words that paint a familiar scene:
“Waiting is not popular. In fact, most people consider waiting a waste of time. Perhaps this is because the culture in which we live is basically saying, “Get going! Do something! Show you are able to make a difference! Don’t just sit there and wait!” For many People, waiting is an awful desert between where they are and where they want to go. And people do not like such a place.”
Waiting can be difficult. Sometimes, I want to know how “it” will all end. And I want to know “it” now.” The reason is fear, of course, as Henri points out later in his writing, and my wish for certainty rather than “lumps in my throat.” Where fears are related to wishes, hope is related to trust, Nouwen teaches.
While I endeavor to wait out everyday life in hope rather than fear, I wait in the company of love, which makes up for many sins and shortcomings, at least in my book. And how wonderful to know that someone, somewhere, is waiting for us. How wonderful it is to know that we are missed when we become separated by time and space.
Does God miss me, I wonder. Does God wait for me to return “home?” I’d like to think ‘yes’ — though here’s hoping that heaven can wait too — at least for a while.