Some days the Lenten journey is frustrating. I set out to do something, and there is construction on the street. I go to pay for something, and the computer is down. I send a note of good cheer, and it is returned to me, “Addressee Unknown.” And sometimes all of those things happen in one day! What does that tell me about my attempts to pay attention to the sanctuary that God can give and that I aspire to be?
My attention gets turned to the Psalms, and how often they challenge me to wait.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, in God’s word I hope./My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning. (Psalm 130:5,6)
The roadblock, the detour is an opportunity to wait for the Holy. These past six months of recovery and restoration from surgery and a fall have given me ample opportunity to wait–for healing, for test results, for new ways to re-engage with life as I was used to it. I will admit that I am not always fond of waiting. I much prefer to imagine a kind of Wonder Woman progress that swoops up into the adventuresome task and gets immediate results. But the waiting, the detours and roadblocks have given me some gifts as well.
They have focused my attention on the immediate moment, and led me to ask, “What is here in front of me–both to enjoy and to care for?” I have watched enriching TV that I didn’t know was there. I have spoken to people about uncharted territory, and learned things about my being and the mysterious world of created humanity that I never would have discovered. I have practiced small movements, prayed small prayers, celebrated tiny successes that heretofore I would have swept by. I have learned AGAIN that my worth to the Holy and to those I am given to love is not in how much I accomplish, produce and deliver, but in just being who I am, as transparent and as open as I can be, everything that I was meant to be in the moment.
The hold-ups also direct my attention to others that I might miss if I am zooming about my intended agenda too quickly. While slowing for construction, I wonder if if I have taken time to pray for those who are doing the demanding and dangerous work. If I am delayed by technical difficulties at a counter, can I feel compassion for the one who is trying to sort it out? As I meet the seemingly unending array of caregivers in doctors’ offices, am I a person who notices names and faces, and treats each one with respect and interest, while still asking clearly for what I need? And as I “wait for the Lord,” where does my heart rest in trusting that wisdom and wholeness will come?
So it appears that part of my Lenten journey is attending to the waiting, the already but not yet, things hoped for but not yet seen. The waiting is a place of looking close up, of listening deeply and of opening myself to see how the Holy will appear and in what guise. It is not wasted time, but another gift.
Help me in the waiting times, O Holy One.