The Art of Waiting

“Things come suitable to their time,” writes Enid Bagnold.  Even though we live in an impatient culture that complains loudly when asked to wait for almost anything, there can be treasure found when practicing the art of waiting.  Perhaps now is the time to admit that I have done my share of long sighs and impatient remarks when wading through the medical insurance phone system trying to talk to a real person, or standing in a long checkout line trying to buy just a few items.  What I have learned is that through these circumstances, life is asking me to adjust my perspective and slow down.

Waiting isn’t easy, and it certainly isn’t fun, especially when it involves the most recent medical test results and decisions about treatment options.  Sue Monk Kidd writes, “There is a fullness of time for things…….You have to know when to prod and when to be quiet, when to let things take their course.”  When waiting involves our health there is often a sense of urgency, panic, or fear.  We may want to do something to resolve the issue immediately when taking action quickly might not be in our best interest.  If there is any doubt, if the way is not clear – WAIT.

Living with unresolved problems is difficult, but if we force a decision too soon we may need to backtrack and redo it like my Dad.  After surgery he insisted on leaving the hospital too soon and his traveling undid what the surgeons had just fixed.  He had to have the surgery redone.  He did not know the art of waiting!  Although sometimes waiting is cast as inaction by being called down time, dead time, or wasted time, Melody Beattie has this to offer: “Often waiting is a God-given action, one with as much power as a decision, and more power than an urgent, ill-timed decision.”  Waiting ensures that we do not let urgency, panic, or fear dictate or control our decisions.

With a bit of practice we can become comfortable with waiting.  This happened on a national scale with the solar eclipse.  Last week my husband and I drove to Newberry, South Carolina to experience the 100% eclipse.  Two million people came into the state just for this celestial happening.  That meant there were long lines of slow traffic moving through construction areas, adding close to two hours to our driving time.  Every rest stop we took was busy but no one was complaining.  Our motel was full (it had 1,000 requests for rooms they couldn’t fill because they were already full), but everyone was good-natured about using the breakfast room in a timely manner so that we all could eat.  People congregated in open areas all over this charming town to set up chairs and cameras and cheerfully stood in line for food and water, which were readily available.  We sat on the lawn of the county courthouse and joined in on the surprisingly warm conversations among strangers who began to feel like new friends.

The art of waiting was the dominant positive energy of the crowd.  All our differences were ignored as we focused on what we had in common.  Good humor was as plentiful as the snacks everyone had brought.  And, as the solar eclipse began happening, people eagerly pointed out every evolving detail in the spirit of wanting everyone to enjoy the moment we had all been waiting for.  We are a nation of boisterous people so as the shadow approached and the sky darkened there was a chorus of cheering voices and whistles as each one of us felt the awe of the total eclipse.  This is a beautiful example of the rewards of waiting for an event that would only happen when the time was right.

Just like the eclipse had a specific time line, we too will know what to do when the time is right without stressing or pressuring ourselves.  Waiting will harmonize decision-making so we know beyond a doubt that we are heading in the right direction for this point in time.  When we feel peaceful and empowered we know we are practicing the art of waiting.  Edward Carpenter sums this up: “Let your mind be quiet, realizing the beauty of the world, and the immense, the boundless treasures that it holds in store.  All that you have within you, all that your heart desires, all that your nature specifically fits you for……will surely come to you.  Yet equally surely not one moment before its appointed time will it come.”  With the usual supportive friendship found in Friends After Diagnosis, let’s encourage each other in the art of waiting, and knowing when the time is right everything will fall into place.

Until Next Time – Sylvia

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