We do a lot of waiting don’t we ? We wait in line at banks, at bus stops, train stations and airports…We wait for results and feedback and answers to problems, we wait for news and babies and crops but few of us are socialized to do all this necessary waiting gracefully.
I worked for a time in a physiotherapy clinic as a receptionist and it was one of the more ‘illuminating’ jobs I have ever held. I watched people arrive, usually on time for their appointment (surprisingly very few people actually arrive early for appointments) and when advised by me, that they would be waiting a ‘few more minutes’ to see the physiotherapist their faces would crinkle with irritation or exasperation.. When I waited on tables (for a spell in my misspent youth) people sighed at being told they would have to wait a ‘few more minutes’ for their grilled chicken and after the (inevitable) complimentary drink would begin to whine loudly for all to hear of ‘waiting for ages’. One ‘gentleman’ actually asked me if we were busy plucking the chicken in the kitchen, it was taking so long. I wanted to say something smarmy like ‘hey dude ever heard of salmonella poisoning?” But of course I didn’t.
Now that I have been lying in bed for six days waiting for my chest to clear and the aches and pains to disappear (I have now progressed to extra strength Tylenols which is a big deal for me because I’d rather be chewing Echinacea roots) I’m getting a sense there is a whole lot of ‘soul making’ going on and I am all for it.
I leave my bed only to use the bathroom and to refill the tea pot otherwise I am here – in my cocoon with my books (my husband has taken to calling it Hadrian’s wall) and my laptop. The rest of the house is a game of Clue or a crime scene of sorts. There is a clear trail of crumbs and ketchup from the refrigerator to my sons’ bedrooms, a tower of dishes in the kitchen sink, a girl’s hairclip in the sitting room sofa (who? And when did this happen?), Halloween candy wrappers under every table, a thickening coat of dust on every surface…
It beckons. The house calls for my attention as does my job in the city. But I am not ready to leave my bed. I am in no rush to rejoin the world of deadlines and quick fixes. Thomas Merton wrote: ‘The imagination should be allowed a certain amount of time to browse around.’ I am happy to dip my toes in foreign waters; to nose around in secret places; to poke and pry into others’ lives while mine for the time being is on hold. And so my body strengthens, my spirit stretches and stories – marvelous stories – incubate.