Earlier this week, I went home for lunch. I walked outside to get the mail, and as I shut the door behind me, I realized one second too late that I had just locked myself out. No phone, no keys, no nothin’ – just me and the contents of our mailbox. Since I’ve been recently battling an epic iPhone addiction, I took my lapse of thinking as an opportunity from The Universe to practice present-moment-ness instead of franticly-calling-our-landlord-ness.
After some old-school (i.e., not iPhone-based) problem-solving, I decided to walk across the street to the Sunrise Assisted Living to ask if I could borrow the phone. As the saintly-if-not-surly woman behind the desk coached me to dial “9” before making an outgoing call, I dialed the only remaining number I have memorized (that is, besides my parents’ and my 3rd-grade BFF’s old house’s): J.’s, of course.
I waited on our front stoop for an hour or so with the peaceful assurance that J. was on his way: watching traffic, flipping through our mail, sitting and thinking, feeling sweaty (thanks, Atlanta) but oddly…patient and content.
Let me remind myself that “patient” and “content” are not usually my strong suits under stress. Lest I forget that for most of my childhood years during the Sacrament of Reconciliation I confessed “being impatient” (right between gossiping and being bossy). Lately, even waiting at a red light has felt excruciating. I find myself wanting to multitask during TV commercials or a YouTube ad. I even sometimes pull my breakfast toast from the oven before it’s finished BECAUSE I CAN WAIT NOT ONE MORE INSTANT. And contentment? Um, that would require a present-focused mind that even on my best days can feel elusive. And surprisingly, in this moment of grace, I felt both patient and content on our front stoop.
Happily making his 40-minute commute twice that day, J. unlocked the door for me, and drove back to work.
Locking myself out of our apartment got me thinking about waiting in general, how readily I avoid any situation of waiting, how easy it has become for me to fill the waiting void with distractions (see: epic iPhone addiction) and how it made all the difference that I knew who I was waiting for, and trusted that he was on his way. I suppose you could say I waited “in joyful hope” rather than restless anxiety.
Besides the obvious eschatological analogy, or John Mayer reference (equally important, no?), I reflected on past experiences I’ve had of waiting, transition, liminal spaces, and in-between times. Usually these liminal times are marked by my desire to know what the future holds, to see what comes next, and to try my best to make my vision happen; what often follows requires letting-go, surrender, and opening to a God who dreams bigger than I do. Besides, the more I think I have transitions behind me, the more I realize that there is always a call to transition, to make adjustments, to grow. The challenge continues to be finding God in these waiting times, because all times are waiting times, whether we distract ourselves from this or not.
I wonder about my current waitings, too. Waiting to expand our new, little family, when it’s time. Waiting to feel more satisfied at work, waiting for more clients, waiting for clients to change. Waiting for myself to change: to finally floss every day, to let go of familiar fears, to accept the limitations of family members, to do more yoga and structured prayertime. This time, in this waiting, I wait with the blessed assurance that the unfolding is on its way.
God will keep you from all anxieties;
God will keep your life.
God will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and for evermore.
-Psalm 121, adapted