By: Rev. Becky Brown
The themes of the season of Advent have been swirling around my head the past couple of weeks. I’ve been thinking a lot about waiting. I don’t know anyone who actually enjoys to wait. For most of us, waiting is inconvenient, anxiety-ridden, debilitating, frustrating, and rude if you cause others to wait on you. I can’t stand having to wait on my children to put their socks and shoes on when I’ve been asking them to do so for over 5 minutes. I really don’t like waiting at a stoplight, especially when only a few cars manage to get through the light each cycle. I don’t enjoy waiting for services at a doctors office, waiting on an oil change, waiting an unusually long time for food in a restaurant, or waiting for friends or family to arrive at our home for an event so we can begin the festivities. I don’t like feeling idle, especially when the task list is long and time is already short. While the act of waiting can encompass all the negative feelings in the world, there is also a tremendous opportunity to recognize Holy Ground.
We live fast paced lives. We, the Brown family of 5, live fast paced lives. We are constantly prepping for the next event or engagement, surviving through it, and then we are on to the next thing. Slowing down is difficult because of the responsibilities we have and the activities we choose to commit our children to. Often when we find ourselves coming to a dead halt, when we are forced to wait, we don’t know what to do with ourselves. Our well oiled machine stalls. We don’t have a detailed plan for the wait, especially if it is unexpected. With our 3 young children, the act of unprepared waiting can be excruciating because once thrown off the routine, the natives go bonkers.
I have begun to see the wait as an opportunity rather than a miserable inconvenience. Not always, I’ll be honest, but I try to. The waiting provides an opportunity for creativity, for noticing, for learning, and making connections with people we would have never seen before in our hurriedness. Just this week, I went to get an oil change. I was way overdue, and with the snow coming, I wanted to make sure the van was in good shape. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who had that idea. As soon as I took the first glance into the waiting room, I knew this was going to take a while. I brought my lunch, so I was prepared to endure some of the wait time. The longer I waited, I thought about how many other things I needed to accomplish and how I was wasting time. Yet, I began to think about the Advent wait - the time of preparation - a holy time in our liturgical year. So, I opened myself up to God, and tried to change my perspective on the wait. How can this car repair waiting room reveal God? Am I able to see Holy Ground? I did an amazing thing these days. I put my phone away and looked up. The cell service wasn’t good anyhow, so that helped my choice. I looked at all the people seated there, and began to wonder about their lives and their stories. I began to consider the ways God is moving in their lives and wondered if they knew of the power of the presence of God. I began to pray for them with my eyes open. I caught eyes with a young woman and we began to make small talk about the weather coming and the shortness of our lunch break. Before I knew it, my name was called and my car was ready. The wait was no more, and I experienced a holy time.
I wonder if that’s something like what God has in mind for the holy waiting. I wonder if God hopes that we won’t wait idlily or angrily. I wonder if God hopes that we see the opportunity to experience holiness. The wait isn’t nearly as hard when in the presence of God’s grace and peace.