“When I am told that waiting seems to belong to the heart of the spiritual life, I’m not pleased, for I want answers, direction, clarity—and I want them pronto. I desire to feel happy and to know what God is up to; I need my life to make sense—now. I’m pleased to live a spiritual life, but I want to be in charge of it and to make it unfold according to my schedule…. There is that old joke about the pilot who comes on the intercom and says, “I have good news and bad news, folks: The bad news is that we’re totally lost; the good news is that we’re making excellent time!” Maybe we’re forced to wait because God wants us seriously to reconsider the course we’ve charted, to stop hurtling down a dangerous road.”
Robert Barron, "What Are You Waiting For", U.S. Catholic, Dec 2003.
My experience is that spiritual friends initially come to talk because they are consciously or unconsciously in some kind of pain, and like the rest of us seek relief, answers, hopefully very soon. This is something to talk about early on about being aware that staying connected to God requires much waiting. “Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength; they will mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary, and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31-1) This is a good verse that most people may know and can help all of us to remember when we find ourselves impatient. We will experience times when we will fly and walk and not be tired, but waiting is still a major part of the relationship. 12-step groups talk about not leaving before the miracle happens.
I have learned a few exercises from my life as a physician about waiting. I would often go to meetings or have patients or other doctors that would keep me waiting. I had those huge ego experiences of “I am very important. You should not keep me waiting. Don’t you know how valuable my time is?” When overcome with these thoughts, I end up mad, arrogant, testy when the person or group finally come. This is never helpful for the interaction. Gradually I learn, that when I find myself waiting, that this is an opportunity to pray for that person or group before we meet, or it is an opportunity to meditate, calm my soul before the meeting. Waiting becomes a gift from that person which makes all the difference in my relationship with those I am meeting with as well as my relationship with God. The same is true about waiting for God. Goodness knows, God spends a great deal of time waiting for us.
Of course, centering prayer, meditation, contemplation, lectio divina are also more exercises about waiting.
Spiritual writer, Michael Vinson, suggests a waiting exercise of remembering times in our lives when by some miracle we do wait and the miracle happens. Perhaps we wait talking to someone about a situation before we hear the whole story. Another spiritual writer, Jane Wolfe, responds to Michael in his blog that God will always give us a nudge when it is time to respond and act after we spend time waiting. Jane reminds us of Mary giving Jesus that nudge at the wedding at Cana when it was now time for him to do something!
“Sit and Wait,” Friday Food, jmichaelvinson.com, February 24, 2017