Waiting

Both of these quotes are from Kathleen Norris, from her book A Marriage, Monks, and A Writer’s Life: Acedia & Me:

On Relationships:

“Imagine for a moment that the people you encounter at home, work, or school are the very people God has given you to pray with, eat with, and play with for the rest of your life. And you are supposed to thank God for this, every day, several times a day. This is what monastic people take on.”

Waiting as a spiritual practice: (this to me is another way of thinking about mindfulness, a Buddhist concept–Gianna)

“There are many admonitions in the prophets and all the way through the bible that waiting is so important. Of course, in our culture, we regard waiting as a waste of time. And every increment in efficiency always asks the question, “Why wait?”. We don’t want to wait.

But when I wrote a little bit on waiting, I looked at the etymology of the word “wait” to see where the word came from, it said “see vigor”. Vigor. So waiting is not passive, it’s active. It’s vigilant. It’s a watchful activity.

We’ll pay money so we don’t have to wait because waiting is for losers. Waiting is for wimps. Yet waiting can become a serious spiritual discipline if we allow it to happen, if we don’t fritter away our time, stamping impatiently, thinking “When is the light going to change?”.

I had an experience of this years ago. I was upset because something on the computer was taking so long. It was something that was a recurring thing. One day I said “Wait a minute. I’m going to see how long this really is”. It was 10 seconds. I had a monk moment and I said to myself “Be vigilant. Watch yourself here. You’re making a fool of yourself over 10 seconds worth of time”.

So that taught me something about waiting and how endangered we are with it right now because computers and email make everything instant. When things aren’t instant, we don’t know who we are anymore. And we need to sort of sit back and say, “Wait a minute. Who am I, really?” and not give in to that impatience and anger. It’s a real spiritual discipline.

You know, if you only let yourself wait, something good might happen. And there are so many processes in nature, and in art. Learning and art take a lot of waiting because it’s not an instant thing. The first time you do it, it’s not going to be right. You’re going to have to revise it. So there are lessons to be had in waiting”.

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