The waiting is the hardest part. ~Tom Petty
You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place… ~Dr. Seuss
Many years ago, I experienced a feeling I had never known before. I consulted friends and family, and no one could really name it for me until a minister friend of mind took me back to my childhood. He reminded me of a book by Dr. Seuss entitled Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
He suggested that I was in the “Waiting Place.” The Waiting Place? Yes, he explained, the time between the last big milestone or decision in your life and what lies ahead. Settle in, he nudged, you don’t know how long you’ll be there.
When I arrived home that day, I ran to my daughter’s room and grabbed the book, and what I read filled my eyes with tears. A useless place? What was he trying to tell me?!
Needless to say, the next day I called him. I can hear my voice now, “What do you mean? It’s a useless place?!”
“Oh,” he muttered, “does it say that?”
After a long conversation, I understood what he was truly trying to tell me. While waiting may seem like the hardest part, it’s not useless–it’s all about preparation.
Just as our garden waits all winter for spring seeds, and our seeds wait for sun and rain, and our fruits and veggies wait for harvest, we too need to wait. It offers our bodies and minds time to rest, but more importantly, it prepares our spirits for what’s ahead.
Over the weekend, I was talking with a friend who self-proclaims he has ADD. He is one of the most knowledgeable gardeners/farmers I know. He mentioned to me though that he likes doing all the “starting” of projects–making mulch, sprouting seeds and such. He doesn’t like the “down time” that it takes for stuff to decompose or grow. It makes him restless.
Sometimes, that’s what the waiting place does for us–makes us restless. That’s when we get distracted or find “busy work” to keep ourselves entertained rather than maximizing that time to listen and discern what our next steps on the journey may be. When we fill that time of preparation with “stuff,” that is when we become useless. (Ok, I’ll give that one to you, Dr. Seuss).
So while Tom Petty may have made an accurate observation about the human condition–most of us do consider waiting as the “hardest part”–I do believe it is also vital to who we are spiritually, professionally, and personally. The challenge is doing the hard work of just being quiet and still long enough to discover what amazing things are ahead. Then, my goodness, oh, the places you’ll go!