The Waiting Game
In the list of things nobody in the world likes to do, standing in line holds a secure place. A hermit nun (yes really) once told me that the wealthier or more powerful a person is, the less time they spend waiting.
For the rest of us, we stand in line.
Here at Prince of Peace, we see the longest lines on food distribution Saturday at the Mercy Center and occasional Saturday confessions in the Mary Chapel. There are also very long lines of traffic before the 4:00 pm Mass on Christmas eve, at all the evening services on Ash Wednesday, and at the 2:00 pm Mass on Passion (Palm) Sunday.
Standing in line is always an opportunity to pray and frequently a chance to grow in the gift of patience. It is also a time to practice some etiquette…
- Make decisions about your purchase. Don’t wait until the line arrives at the counter in the movie theatre: decide on candy, pizza or popcorn before you get there.
- Have your payment ready. After your order has been rung up is not the time to begin searching in your purse for the debit card.
- Be attentive to circumstances. Don’t get in the movie ticket line and do all your holiday gift card shopping while others are waiting to make it to their movie on time.
- If you’re in line and notice someone with only one item to purchase or a parent struggling with a fussy child, let them go ahead of you.
- The check-out associate is a person, too. If the cashier is in a bad mood, you don’t have to be. Wishing the checker a blessed day, a Merry Christmas, a holy Passover or Ramadan or a Joyful Easter is appropriate regardless of your faith or theirs. Christians should be equal-opportunity blessers.
- Getting stuck in traffic is often the most disempowering experience of all: there are no avenues of escape, no way out. It’s almost like being trapped in a jail cell. Besides prayer (those rosaries hanging from rear-view mirrors aren’t just for luck, you know), there is also the myriad of opportunities provided by technology. Have podcasts and audio recordings at the ready to update you on your field of business, entertain you with a novel or history, teach you Spanish or Korean, inspire you with past homilies, open to you the riches of a book of the Bible, or distract you with a fairy tale.
Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. It’s a new year. Ask God’s grace and wisdom to begin doing the waiting game in new, productive and enjoyable ways.