On retreat last week I was reminded of how important waiting is. It is not at all something that we are used to or good at in our world today. As someone pointed out one of our new gods is called ÂInstant;Â another is called ÂDistractionÂ Â the need to be entertained in every moment. Neither of these gods sits comfortably with waiting. There is a kind of courtesy involved in waiting. We wait for or wait on someone or something until they are ready. Waiting demands patience. It demands that we hand over power to the other. It lives by the old adage that the best things in life are worth waiting for.
What do we have to wait for? First thing, upon waking and best done gazing out the window, cup of tea in hand, we wait for the spirit of the day to make itself known. As we pause and gaze, resisting the temptation to switch on the radio or hurry up and get dressed, we allow GodÂs presence to be felt. You canÂt force this. You have to wait. But the reward is that already the day has depth and meaning. Even if this is the only pausing we do all day it will change the taste of the day.
Leaving the house the temptation is to be full of what we are going towards, our journey to work, or what we have to do. We can be completely oblivious to life outside our heads. We are also living entirely in the future and not in the present moment at all. So the invitation as you open the front door and step out is to pause and again wait on the day. Let it come to you; let it greet you in the weather you step into: the physical feelings of warmth or cold on your skin, the sounds of birdsong, breeze, rain, traffic. Smell the smells: everything from tarmac to sweet smells of grass or box hedge to coffee or curry! Observe the trees; notice the ones coming into bud. Be aware of the people. Look at the sky, at the buildings, at the birds in the trees. And then just pause again. In those moments of being and waiting the day tenderly gives itself to you.
In everything we do we are invited to be patient and to wait so that the other may come to us. So we wait on a painting we are looking at until it begins to ÂspeakÂ to us. We read a piece of scripture or a poem slowly and sometimes more than once and then just sit with it until something communicates itself to us. In conversation we wait for the other person to share without hurrying into our agenda. If the conversation gets deep we allow the silences. With a small child or animal we wait until they feel confident enough to come towards us. We respect their space and needs.
We can get into the habit of pausing during the day and allowing all the richness outside ourselves if we practice it. The more we practice just stopping and waiting for a few moments, the more habitual it becomes and the more alive we feel. It probably starts though with that waiting first thing in the morning. A new day full of its own life and I am allowed to be part of it, thanks be to God.