I am waiting.
At the Intercontinental airport in Houston, Texas. I am flying standby and have missed three flights so far. My waiting began at 7 a.m. this morning, and at 4 p.m. it shows no signs of abating.
So as I wait, I am thinking about waiting.
You can wait for things, like a package to arrive, a taxi to drive by, or the sun to rise. You can wait for people to come to your party, to keep their appointment, to get to church. We can "Wait for Fidel," or be "Waiting for Godet," and of course, Godet or whomever we're waiting, may not show up. A woman in waiting is waiting for the child to drop--finally.
We wait in groups and we wait in lines and we wait in cars. Waiting implies that we're at the mercy of someone else. At Safeway, I am waiting--at the mercy of the little lady at the checkout who's fishing for a tiny change purse at the bottom of her handbag in which she hopes to find a single penny to snare with her arthritically impaired fingers. We wait in doctor's offices for the doctor. We wait at the post office where--although four bay windows were thoughtfully provided for clerks to occupy--they are never fully occupied, even at Christmas. We wait at the DMV to renew a license. Here, we are often given a number, so that we know just where we are in the wait line.
Sometimes we're told that waiting is a good thing. We should wait to get married, or wait to buy that flat screen TV until we can afford it, or wait for the ball instead of swinging too early. It's not good to swing early.
If you're tired of waiting, you can go to a special place to wait: The Waiting Room. There you can play the Waiting Game, which consists of trying to guess how long you will need to wait before the eschatological event occurs.
Waiting is always linked to hope. Perhaps that why Paul Tillich called waiting a metaphor for faith. Why would one wait if there were not the firm belief that the object of one's wait will someday, some hour, materialize?
Sometimes we wait when there seems to be no hope. We wait for our wives to quit the boudoir and get into the car for the evening's appointment. We wait for our children's college tuition payments to come to an end. We wait for the Cubs to win the World Series.
Waiting is especially hard if you have nothing to do while waiting. That's why Jesus, when talking about waiting, would also talk about working--work for the night is coming. If you don't have anything to do while waiting, life becomes tedious quite easily. I have been reading today a biography of Henry James and have almost finished it. I fear to do so, because I will then have to buy an airport novel to pass my time--some book with a title like, "Press Me to Thy Bosum, Dearest Love." I am also writing this blog. This has consumed, so far, all of 14 minutes.
Waiting is hard work. It takes a lot of energy. People who have spent a day waiting and not doing a darn thing report being utterly exhausted. Sometimes it is less tiring to work, than it is to wait.
Waiting can be enervating, which is why the word in Isaiah is so promising: "They who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."
So I wait. Weary, but waiting.
There’s a lot of waiting during Lent. You’re waiting for it to end. You’re waiting for a payoff. You’re waiting for the Resurrection. You’re waiting for spiritual growth.
And then you realize this is not waiting at all. It’s life. It’s joy. It’s opportunity. It’s blessing.
“All good things come to those who wait.” —Heinzt ketchup commercial, circa 1980s.