The Art of Waiting

Monet Painting in his garden at argenteuil 1873      Waiting like Art has many facets. Not only are there paintings (including watercolor), charcoal drawings, architecture, sculpture, photography, lithography, ceramics and many more. The many disciplines of Art bring a multitude of feelings. These are feelings that we may show outwardly or hide from ourselves or others. I like art in its many forms, though I am first to admit that I may not understand all that I see and therefore may not like a particular piece.

Sculpture IRecently our pastor gave a sermon in which she talked about waiting. As it is nearing the end of Lent, Waiting is a prime subject for the church. Since I recently had surgery and this week found out that I have an infection as a result of the surgery, is it any wonder that I probably slept through most of her sermon only to catch bits and pieces here and there, I find myself doing a lot of waiting. Thank goodness she prints her sermons and I was able to read it later.

The parts that I do remember included and were reinforced by the reading were: waiting while being anxious, in anticipation, or in terror. But that is just a small part of the subject of waiting. Waiting is so much more involved. I admit that she was making a point that was very specific to her sermon.

Little Girl WaitingAfter hearing the small bits of the sermon, it caused me to think of other ways that we wait. First I needed to get a copy of the sermon and see what she actually said. She asked specific questions: “Have you ever watched for the morning? Have you ever paced through the night, waiting for a child’s fever to break? Have you ever sat on the bench outside a courtroom, waiting for the verdict to come back? Have you ever lay in the fetal position on the bed, rocking, anxious, utterly alone and terrified by your loneliness, certain it will kill you, just waiting for that first glimpse of light and the reassurance that there is a new day? Waiting can be terrible.”

Yes waiting can be terrible, but it can also be a joy or even solitude. The terrible types of waiting can bring fear and anxiety, but it can also foster hatred or resentment. These are not the good aspects of waiting, for it just creates more of the same, in a perpetual circle.

Advent WreathIn the church we are always waiting, sometimes in anxiety or in anticipation. It all starts with the beginning of the church calendar which is Advent; we are waiting in anticipation of the birth. Each Sunday it builds as each candle is lit in the Advent Wreath until it is Christmas. One would think that the waiting is over, but no next is the circumcision and the baby growing up to become a man with his baptism.

Jesus on the crossLent is the next time of waiting, beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending with Easter. We wait for forty days in anxiety knowing that the crucifixion is coming and will be here sooner than we think. As the Good Friday closes and we experience the agony of the trial, the humiliation of the cross and the rendering of the garments, we end our period of waiting to begin waiting anew.

He is RisenThis new waiting is in anticipation of Easter Morning when we celebrate the risen Christ. For Christians it is a time of joy and celebration. Our faith has new meaning and purpose, feeling a rebirth within ourselves of knowing our lives have been changed because we believe in this miracle.

PENTECOSTAgain we wait, but unlike those in the Book of Acts, we wait for that sign we know and recognize as the sign that we are truly one of Gods people, chosen by the Holy Spirit, touched by tongues of fire.

Our waiting has not come to an end, but only to rest, before we start again with Advent. Waiting need not be just of anxiety and terror, it can also be a time of anticipation and joy. I look into the eyes of children every time we enter into that period of advent, that look is pure joy.

Finally, there is a good type of waiting and that is where you settle into yourself and wait for the inner peace to enter in. Some call this meditation, others relaxation, but whatever you call it, enjoy that time and allow that time of waiting to bathe and soothe the soul. I try to find this place of waiting often. It is not easy, but it sure is worth it. Just sitting back, knowing not what is in the near future, but waiting without anxiety or fear can bring an inner peace like no other.