Waiting is no game. It belongs to life as intimately as sleeping. To survive our times of waiting poses one of life's greatest challenges.
As children we waited for the seasons to change. Or we waited for monotony to pass or a task to be finished—especially when we were doing the work. We waited to become high schoolers or a little taller—and for hundreds of lesser or greater things. I waited for the day when I would start my travels west—and for the day to go to seminary—or be drafted. And only much later would I begin to sense the learning which can take place in the waiting.
Waiting takes its character by what we are waiting for. The lowest form of waiting is that of standing in line for a known product or service: the cafeteria line, the doctor's office, the traffic light, the school grade. A slightly nobler form of waiting is that of readiness, even eagerness, for an event or experience which waits for us to make our own imprint—for good or ill.
The highest and the toughest waiting is that of standing by without a clue. What the next day might bring; a posture which neither hastens nor contrives the turning of the page of life. When we approach such a posture it is close to faith itself. No longer trying to do something—good or bad—we leave ajar the door of becoming, and our waiting becomes expectancy—and becomes us.
Charles E. Rice is the author of The View from My Ridge (Canopic 2003). He served as both an ordained Methodist minister (1951-1958) and Episcopal Priest (1959-1986) during his career as a clergyman, theologian, writer, and teacher.