I well remember when I decided to consider waiting in line as "free meditation". I heartily recommend it.
A few years ago I was waiting in a long line at Costco. In spite of my best efforts to find the shortest line, of course I ended up in the slowest moving line of all. As I stood there, I could feel my blood pressure rising. The more I waited, the more frustrated I became. Words I never say (well, almost never) filled my mind, and I'm not referring to "Happy Holidays." "Why do I always get in the slowest line?" I asked myself. "And why is this taking so long?" I grumbled under my breath.
Then, all of a sudden, it dawned on me. I had one of those moments of grace, in which God managed to slip a word into my consciousness. As I stood in line at Costco, I was waiting. Waiting! I was doing exactly what Advent is all about. Of course I wasn't waiting for God to save me or anything momentous like that. I was simply waiting to get out of that store so I could go home. But, nevertheless, I was waiting. I was forced to experience something that's at the very heart of Advent.
So I decided, right then and there in the line at Costco, that I was going to use the experience of waiting in line as an Advent reminder. In that moment, and in similar moments yet to come, I was going to remember what Advent is all about. I was going to put myself back into the shoes of the Jews who were waiting for the Messiah. And I was going to remember that I too am waiting for Christ to return.
As I decided to let the experience of forced waiting be a moment of Advent reflection rather than a cause for getting an ulcer, I found my anger quickly drain away. Waiting in line at Costco became, not a trial to be endured, but a moment of grace. And get this: I even found myself thanking God for the chance to slow down a bit and wait. This was, indeed, a miracle.
By the time I got to check out, my heart was peaceful, even joyous. I felt as if I had discovered a treasure. The next Sunday I shared my discovery with my congregation at Irvine Presbyterian Church. In the days that followed, many of my flock told me how much their Advent had been improved by thinking of waiting in line, not as a curse, but as a potential blessing.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Oh my. I found an article called My Greatest Advent Discovery Revisited and Retooled by The Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts who is clearly a man after my own heart! I love what he says about waiting: