These past few weeks, I have found myself having to focus on my health in ways that are quite unfamiliar to me. Having had good health for most of my life, it has been a strange experience to be in the Emergency Room twice in a span of a month. There are several facets of these days that have been new and difficult, but one of the hardest things for me has been being forced to wait! Wait in the ER, wait in the doctor’s office, wait for a diagnosis, wait for medicine to start to work, and wait for the day when I feel better.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t find it easy to make good use of waiting time. Surely there is something better than spending these moments complaining and impatiently wishing things were different from what they are.
One of my favorite authors on the spiritual life is Henri Nouwen. In a tiny little booklet printed in 1995, he considered this very topic of “Waiting.” In it, he referred to Mary, the mother of Jesus when she said “I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let what you have said be done to me,.” Luke 1:38. About those words, Henri added: “She believed that when she listened carefully, she could trust what was going to happen. To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life. It is trusting that something will happen to us that is far beyond our own imaginings. It is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life.”
What a great way to wait!