“How are you all doing?” That’s the question I find myself asking, countless times a day.
“We’re doing.” “We’re doing OK.” “We’re hanging in there, worried about certain family members and friends who are ‘at risk.’” “Waiting for this all to be over.” “Wondering when life will return to normal.” “Afraid we will try to return to normal too soon and have another wave and close down everything all over again.”
Then we talk about the stats. How many more cases today? Around the world, in our country, our county, our town. How many deaths? How many degrees of separation between us and a person who has tested positive, or negative, or – unbelievably – has died.
For what exactly, we’re not sure, but it’s not easy waiting, by any means.
Usually, we’re waiting for something exciting to happen. We are expectant. Hopeful and looking forward. Waiting for a new happening in our lives or our communities. For things to turn a corner, take a new direction, come to fruition – like waiting with hope for the long winter to finally be over and signs of spring to finally appear. Flowers bursting up through the soil, after winter’s long, dormant hibernation. Birds appearing and singing, as if they’ve been hiding out, perhaps around the corner, and watching us all this time, just waiting for the cue to burst into song.
Waiting now has a more ominous sense to it. We’ve been told “it’s barreling at us like a freight train!” Many of us have never lived through such an odd time, as we wait for something to come, we know not exactly what.
We have been social distancing and self-isolating (or wishing others would more fully) for months now. And yet, experts tell us we’re “not there yet.” That we must keep waiting. That things still might get worse before they get better.
And this is a different kind of waiting – so very different. Tempers and patience are tried. We don’t tend to be a patient people. How many of you squirm if your computer takes a long time to boot up? Or, if you don’t get an immediate response to that text or email you sent? Or, for the store shelves to teem with TP and hand sanitizer again?
But, there’s good news in all this. For waiting can be a kind of prayer – if we let it, and if we can set aside our impatience just long enough to look for the gift.
The Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor, a favorite author, says:
“Once between the time I received bad news about my health and the surgery to have the bad thing cut out, I found it possible to love my life in ways that had never occurred to me before. I never thought I could value being able to walk around my house and look out all the windows. I never thought of the brickwork on the building where I worked as beautiful before, or the sound of people laughing on the sidewalk as welcome signs of life. I never allowed myself the time to take a bath instead of a shower, or to find out how long the hot water lasted if I were not in a hurry.
“Waiting, I found speechless intimacy with other people. We could spend 15 minutes admiring a rose, a whole hour enjoying a meal. Even if (the) news had stayed bad instead of getting better, I like to think that these simple pleasures would not have lost their power to console me.”
And so, we wait. And pray. God’s answers are interwoven in how we now take time – time to notice, time to rest, time to enjoy simple pleasures, time to talk and just be.
I wonder if I can “turn my waiting spirit around” and in turn nurture that spirit instead of pestering it? Pay attention to what I haven’t before – in a spirit of gratitude for all that is good and present and here already.
I wonder if I can do like Taylor says and “love my life in ways that had never occurred to me before.”
May we wait, a step at a time. In hope. In attention. With patience. For as long as it takes.
The Rev. Rebecca K. Poos is pastor of Congregational United Church of Christ in Buena Vista. She can be reached at 719-395-2544, or visit YouTube Channel:P CuCC Buena Vista CO for worship services every week and special musical offerings.