Waiting. Waiting. And more waiting. We spend a lot of our time waiting for something. We wait in line at the grocery store or the coffee shop. We wait for appointments. We wait for test results. We wait to meet with friends. We wait for vacation. We wait.
Sometimes we wait patiently. Sometimes we are anxious. Sometimes we are excited. Sometimes we are ambivalent. Life happens while we wait.
What we do while we wait is the question. In the short waits we might listen to music, to news, to a podcast, to a story. Or we scroll through social media or play a game. What about the longer waits?
When the test results take a couple of weeks? Or the visit from friends or that trip is months away? Or that much-needed medical appointment is months out? Life doesn’t stop whether we wait anxiously or excitedly, whether we are dreading what is coming or embracing it. Time creeps by or it flies, or, somehow, it does both at once.
I’ve been anticipating my soon-to-begin vacation for months. I cannot wait for the bus ride back East to visit friends, family, and the ocean. While the days go by, I’ve also waited for medical appointments and test results as well as the smaller, daily waits. The summer has gone by quickly without heed to my waiting for one thing or another.
I can be very patient and I can be very impatient while waiting for something. What I try to do is stay focused on the present. I try to attend to the small things, like the fact that the squirrels didn’t eat all my bulbs and a few of the gladiolas I planted are actually blooming now. I try to focus on the small gratitudes and, sometimes, the big ones.
Gratitude keeps me focused on the present. It keeps me from being consumed by the “what-ifs” or the “if-onlys.” For example, as I’ve waited for this summer’s trip (a reprisal of a little bit of the sabbatical trip), I’ve focused my gratitudes on Living Table.
It’s true. Each day when I find myself wishing my vacation time was here, I turn my attention to the amazing gifts of the Living Table Community. Yes, I mean you. I am repeatedly impressed by the way the community cares for one another. I’m struck by the joy of having children in worship. I’m awed by the adaptability of this congregation. And I’m extremely grateful for the many who put hours and hours of time and energy into sustaining the community. And more.
As you are waiting in small ways or big ways, what helps you stay connected to the present moment? Is it gratitude or something else?
Please share your waiting strategies in the comments. And, if you are waiting for something that would benefit from accompaniment, please share your prayer requests as well.
The next few Pastoral Notes will be pre-scheduled. I’ll be back “live” after Labor Day. May these last weeks of August bring blessings and joy.
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