Waiting in Line
I remember the moment I realized I no longer would have to wait or be bored. It was 2009 and I had entered the post office to mail a letter overseas. In front of me was a long line of customers snaking around the room, all waiting. I was annoyed, and I sighed. Then I remembered I had a device in my handbag that I hadn’t really tried out. I had recently bought my first iPhone. I had no idea what a smartphone was capable of, all I wanted to do was text and make phone calls.
I pulled out my phone and thought, ”I think I can read the newspaper on this thing.” I opened the browser, found the newspaper I wanted, and began to read. Time flew by. Occasionally, I would look up to see where I was in line and suddenly I was at the front of the line. I mailed my letter and left the post office completely astonished. I would never have to experience waiting again. I was overjoyed and amazed.Any moment that I was waiting I could instead read the newspaper and catch up on current events. I could respond to emails. I was going to save so much time and have more free time by maximizing those moments when I was waiting.
Fourteen years later my relationship with my phone is more complicated. Sometimes I daydream about taking a hammer to it. All that imagined free time never materialized–there was always more news and more emails to read.
Over time I realized I was losing something essential and mysterious about myself and others by not waiting, by not being bored. A couple weeks ago I was at the post office and this time, despite the line of people waiting, I didn’t pull out my phone. Eventually I fell into conversation with the woman in front of me. We chatted, laughed and went on our way. I like to think the smiles, the laughing and the sharing of our stories brought a little joy to both of us, and put a little spark, a little love out into the world.
Much like the 10 virgins who fell asleep waiting for the bridegroom, I don’t want to be asleep for God. I want to be prepared with extra oil like the 5 virgins. It’s currently popular to say life happens in the moments between the big events–births, graduations, promotions, first house, first car, weddings-in the waiting. I think God is especially present in those in-between moments, and when I experience God in silence or in other people I want to be ready for it. I don’t want to miss it staring at my phone.