The Art of Waiting by Hannah Elhard
An excerpt from Oh The Places You’ll Go
Everyone is just waiting
For a train to go or a bus to come
Or a plane to go or the mail to come Or the rain to go or the phone to ring Or the snow to snow or waiting around For a Yes or a No
Or waiting for their hair to grow Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
Or waiting for wind to fly a kite
Or waiting around for a Friday Night
Or waiting perhaps for their Uncle Jake Or a pot to boil or a Better Break
Or a string of pearls or a pair of pants Or a wig with curls or Another Chance.
For Dr Seuss, waiting is stagnant. In our culture, we have entire rooms designated for it, lines and queues, all usually regarded with a general sense of irritation.
For the psalmist, however, waiting is active and marked by hope. “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope” Out of the depths, the psalmist cries out. One could imagine a literal pit, deep and damp and full of darkness. What about the pits of our own lives? A divorce, a layoff, loss of a child, friend, lack of sense of purpose, addiction.
When I have found myself in my own depths, in desperation and fear of forever being stuck, my every effort was geared towards escaping. Scattered and desperate, my mind never seemed to stop whirring, aching for relief. It did not feel possible to simply wait. Waiting would require stillness and hope, two of the most challenging sensations when one is in one’s depths. Hope that someday things could be okay again. This felt impossible, because I was sure I was alone. But as the psalmist assures, there is hope to find a way out, if we can take a moment to be still and rely on God’s abundant mercy.
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplications!
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you,
so that you may be revered.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is great power to redeem.
It is he who will redeem Israel
from all its iniquities.