In a world where we are connected via smart phones, tablets, laptops and email we seldom are required to wonder about and anticipate the arrival of someone, someone special. Last Sunday, I was sharing the morning with my 4 year old granddaughter. We were early to church, getting there before many others and their children. Of particular interest to my grandkid was her current 'best church friend', Ruthie. Ruthie is a preteen and simply the greatest small human on the planet to my granddaughter. The order of the morning was to find Ruthie. We walked around the church building, strolled outside to survey the parking lot - we paused and waited - then we looked in another place. As I let my granddaughter lead me on our search for Ruthie, I wondered if Ruthie was even coming to church that day.
|Waiting on Ruthie|
My first thought was to call Ruthie's mom, but I didn't have her number so we waited. As other children arrived and the time for worship approached, I mentioned that Ruthie might not be coming to church. My granddaughter was undaunted and took her position by the front lobby window. As she watched each car and person arrive with no Ruthie, I imagined the varied emotions she must be experiencing.
Haven't we each had the experience of wanting someone to arrive, hoping to see them? Truth is, as I thought about the experience I had to go to memories of my childhood, to a time when technology wasn't so available, a time when we weren't connected constantly. I remember waiting, nose pressed to the window pane, for my uncle and aunt to arrive on Christmas eve. We couldn't open presents until they arrived, and they wouldn't arrive until they completed their trip to my aunt's parents. We didn't have any way of knowing when they would arrive, or where they were in their timeline. The high tech communications of the day consisted of nothing more than house phones - usually one to a home. So we had to wait. We just did the things we needed to do and carried with each of our actions the hovering expectation of their arrival. The later it got, the more excited we got. The more we lived with that unknown and the knowledge that they could round that corner any moment, the more excited we got. I haven't had that experience lately. I watched my granddaughter experiencing something similar and wondered how quickly technology would make her unknowns fade.
Is there something necessary in our waiting, our expectations in waiting? Do we need to develop and live with some level of uncertainty in order to have a deeper level of connection or value to the arrival moments in our lives? Have we grown so accustom to rapid communication and instant accessibility to family and friends that we are less capable of dealing with uncertainty, and open expectations?
Last Sunday, Ruthie never arrived. My granddaughter finally gave up and joined me in the pew as worship began. Soon she was sharing drawings and quiet conversation with the 4 yr old boy seated next to us. In a few minutes they walked downstairs together for 'children's church.' It was clear her expectation of Ruthie's arrival had passed. What was not clear is how immeasurably valuable that simple moment of hoping, anticipating and waiting may have been for her development. Did she learn something about waiting? Did she build even care to share in the next meeting with Ruthie? What is clear is that it has me thinking...