The kind of “waiting” I’m a pro at, is the hand-wringing kind. You know, the oh-golly-i-don’t-know-how-this-is-gonna-turn-out kind, or the i-gotta-do-somethin’-about-this kind, or the it-shouldn’t-be-this-way kind, or the i-gotta-hurry-up-and-get-through-this-so-I-can-get-to-the-REAL-stuff-of-life kind. When I find myself in this state of “waiting” through life’s moments, I do try to stop it. But I then typically fall into another kind of “waiting” which is the passive, well-I-can’t-do-anything-about-it kind and I throw my hands up in the air and say, “Oh well! Just grin and bear it.”
The type of “waiting” Henri Nouwen calls us to in his article, Waiting for God, is neither of the above. Rather it’s a brand of waiting which is full of expectancy, and anticipation…like Mary, the mother of Jesus, who patiently waited for what would unfold in her life even though it all seemed confusing. Nouwen says that her kind of “waiting” was a “I don’t know what this all means, but I trust that good things will happen” kind of waiting (pg. 33 Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas).
I wonder what it would be like to do loads of laundry, piles of dishes, cook meals, tend to diabetes, grocery shop, and shuttle kids with a “present to the moment” attitude. To inhabit all those things as if THEY are the REAL moments of life, and not merely things to get through in order to get on with whatever it is I think is real living. I think John Lennon rephrased this thought as: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Certainly, I can still make plans, but I want to LIVE present in ALL the moments of my life…the menial as well as the stellar, the mundane as well as the exciting, the insignificant as well as the significant.
Once again, if it’s difficult to read my chicken scratch, here’s today’s snippet from the Nouwen article, Waiting for God:
“Active waiting means to be present fully to the moment, in the conviction that something is happening where you are and that you want to be present to it. A waiting person is someone who is present to the moment, who believes that this moment is THE moment.” (pg. 31)