I’ve waited all my life. You probably expect a sentence that starts out that way to have a little more to it. For example, …to hold my first grandchild…to go on a cruise to Alaska…to go deep-sea fishing. The list for folks my age could go on and on. We have plans. Plans for happy endings; plans for security; even plans for service. Many of our peers have waited until they were financial stable to find a place to do volunteer work, go to the mission field, or maybe even just help out at the local food bank. All these things are admirable, all of them worthwhile. But, I hadn’t planned to finish the sentence in any way other than it came out.
I’ve waited all my life. When I was a baby, I waited to be fed, waited to have a diaper changed, waited for someone to play with me. I really don’t remember that, but it’s true nonetheless. As I grew, I waited to get up from my nap, waited for a cookie and some Kool-aid at Bible school, and waited for my brother to outgrow his bicycle so I could get rid of the girl’s bike on which I started out. Then as I arrived at my teenage years, I waited for my first date (highly over-rated, by the way), waited to get my license, waited to go out on the marching field with the band, waited for the judge’s ratings in the music contests, waited when my mom forgot to pick me up after the contest (because I was still waiting for my license), and waited to graduate.
I imagine that right now, you’re waiting. Waiting for me to end this tedious litany of anticipation for the next event. I’ll put you out of your misery on that account, but I hate to be the one to inform you that when you finish reading this blog, you’ll still be waiting. Oh, not that you won’t be doing anything while you wait. We’ve become experts at that. I go to the doctor’s office for an appointment and….I wait. But while I’m waiting, I watch people. Laptops, books, cellphones (for talking), cellphones (for texting), cellphones (for game playing), cell phones (for checking and posting on Facebook), and here and there, one of the inveterate magazines which I refuse to pick up in the clinic’s waiting room. There are sick people all around, you know. But not many of us sit and do nothing. We fill the time, while we are waiting; in the waiting room; to be moved to another waiting room. Ah well, you know the drill, so I’ll move on.
The Lovely Lady has the waiting thing down to an art. When we travel, the craft bags always get packed first, but they go in the car last and are kept with us wherever we are. One never knows when there will be some moments not filled with activity, so the backup plan is in place, with needlework always likely to appear. For my part, I have to admit that I actually like waiting. While I also have succumbed to the lure of the “smart phone” in recent years and have been known to carry a book under my arm, causing a few interruptions to the waiting, I do often pretend to read the book while daydreaming or people watching, maybe even catching a catnap. Don’t tattle on me to the Lovely Lady, okay?
When we get old, we have other things to wait for; the meals-on-wheels person, the home health care worker, our children and grandchildren. There is a television program on public television, one of the “Britcoms” about old people in a retirement home. The name of the program? “Waiting For God.” And, while, on this program, they don’t actually talk much about God sensibly, the title they have selected is, in fact the true name of this entire waiting game, isn’t it? We plan and hope to act, He opens (or closes) the door. We hope and wish for, He answers our prayers. I’ve told you before of one of my Dad’s favorite quotes, from Thomas a Kempis several centuries ago. “Man proposes, God disposes.”
So, we keep waiting, and planning, and doing, all the while waiting for what’s coming next. I’m amazed at all the living that goes on…while we wait.
I sit beside the fire and think of all that I have seen,
of meadow-flowers and butterflies in summers that have been;
Of yellow leaves and gossamer in autumns that there were,
with morning mist and silver sun and wind upon my hair.
I sit beside the fire and think of how the world will be
when winter comes without a spring that I shall ever see.
For still there are so many things that I have never seen:
in every wood in every spring there is a different green.
I sit beside the fire and think of people long ago,
and people who will see a world that I shall never know.
But all the while I sit and think of times there were before,
I listen for returning feet and voices at the door.