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Hurry up and wait.  We've likely all experienced that annoying phenomenon.  Sometimes the really irritating experiences are relatively mundane.  Like the untimed traffic lights on the main thoroughfare through my home town.  There are lights at every other intersection (read that, every other block) along Broadway as you travel from or towards the Causeway (our way on and off the Island).  And no matter what speed you drive, you will inevitably play an adult version of the kids' game "red light, green light," as you race two blocks, slam on the brakes, race two blocks, slam on the brakes.  Hurry up.  Wait.  Hurry up.  Wait.

 

But of course, there are the more monumental elements of waiting that we experience in our lives.  As I write, our beloved Uncle Billy has entered Hospice Care and the waiting begins.  With little effort, I can recall the waiting that comes along with the palliative care that is Hospice as I remember my family's experience in my precious grandmother's last weeks.  Yes, weeks.  We were anticipating days.  But days turned into weeks.  Those weeks were filled with waiting.  Waiting for guests who came to offer good-byes.  Waiting for health aides to arrive to assist us.  Waiting to see if Grandma would wake up today.  Waiting to see if that next breath would come... and sometimes that felt like a really long time.  In fact, I even began writing, as I waited, our family take on the popular Christopher Guest mockumentary "Waiting for Guffman" (which is Guest's parody of Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot").  I had titled my piece, "Waiting for Grandma.... to Die."  I suppose it was a way to interject humor in a time that often felt uneasy, unusual, and undeniably uncertain.

 

Yesterday, my father-in-law slipped on a patch of ice in his driveway and broke his hip.  I imagine the waiting for a passerby to appear and be flagged down to help him seemed like a long time.  And I feel quite confident that my mother-in-law's anxiety level was high, as she waited throughout the day to catch a flight back home, to be near her husband, the level of whose injuries she did not know.

 

Sometimes, our periods of waiting come with known results.  We wait during Advent for the birth of the Christ child.  We wait during Lent, anticipating the resurrection of our Lord and Savior.  We wait through the blackness of night, watching for sunlight on the horizon.  We know these things are coming, and so our waiting is less stressful.

 

But most of the time, we don't know.  We don't know exactly what is coming.  Or how it will come.  Or when it will come.  We don't know what the experience of the coming will be like, or how it will affect us, or what role we'll play in it.  And our on-demand, fast-paced-society psyches shout "Hurry Up!" because we are desperate to know the outcome.  We simply can't stand the not knowing.

 

The irony in all this, though, is that the destination, the result, the outcome --- this is not so significant.  It is the waiting that is the true journey.  How do we conduct ourselves in the waiting.  Are we too focused on the destination that we lose sight of the current place in life where we are when we wait? 

 

Scripture is filled with the concept of waiting.  It is in the waiting that we come to know God, that we come to truly trust God.  One of my friends shared with me that God's timeline is not our timeline, but God is never late.  And so we must trust that the journey is in the waiting.

 

My dear friend, Kinley Lange, composed the following... I only wish I had a recording that you could hear:

 

Refrain

When the heart waits, the eyes are opened.

When the heart waits, the ears can hear.

When the heart waits, in expectation,

the Spirit draws near.

 

Verse 1

There is a gift in waiting, in living through the now;

In giving up the knowing to gain the knowing how.

 

Verse 2

There is a gift in waiting, in places dark and strange;

In giving up an image to gain the choice of change.

 

Verse 3

There is a gift in waiting, to hear the still, small voice;

In list'ning on our knees, then rising to rejoice.

 

 

Grace and peace to you as you journey.

Yours in Christ,  

~~Jennifer

1/19/07

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