Waiting is a topic we
often consider during the season of Advent. I’ve read numerous Advent
meditations that talk about the importance of waiting, the need to wait, the
practice of waiting as a spiritual discipline. If we faithfully practice
Advent, we are brought back time and time again to the need to wait. It is part
of preparing ourselves for the coming of Emmanuel each year at Christmas.
Of course, waiting is not
the favorite pastime of anyone I know. And waiting is not exclusive to Advent.
We spend a lot of time waiting for things. Some might say waiting is a “necessary
evil” but I wouldn’t call it that.
I mentioned in my last
blog post that I had learned some lessons from nine weeks of not being able to
drive because of a broken shoulder. One of the lessons I learned, or at least became
more familiar with, was waiting. I waited on the sidewalk outside my apartment
most days, looking for my ride for that particular day. It gave me an
opportunity to be present. I watched the trees change colors. I watched clouds
in the sky. I saw different people walking down the street. I observed the work
of remodeling that was happening at a building near me.
As a child, I remember
learning a rhyme about crossing the street. It began: Stop, look, and listen.
Standing on the sidewalk each day, waiting for a ride, gave me the opportunity
to stop, look, and listen, a practice I can do anywhere, anytime I’m waiting, if
I’ll just stay awake and aware.
There was another gift of
waiting. It was a waiting that curbed impulsiveness. Because I was dependent on
others to take me to the grocery store, I had to be attentive about keeping a
running list of what I needed. I couldn’t simply jump in the car to pick up one
or two items. It caused me to recognize how impulsive I can be. Because I had
to wait, I learned to improvise or do without ingredients. Not a bad practice.
I realized just how much
time I can waste making little trips back and forth to the grocery store. I
recognized that impulsivity is a barrier to imagination. When I have to wait,
there is time and space for creative problem solving. That’s a practice that
can apply not only to meal preparation but to other areas of life. Waiting
gives space for ideas to germinate.
As we wait during Advent,
I challenge you to see this practice of waiting as creative process. Stop.
Look. Listen. Improvise. Think about things differently. What can grow in you
while you wait?