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Wonder Waiting



Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord

- Psalm 27:14 (NIV)

I had just returned to base camp from a 2 week shift in the woods.  I was tired, grumpy, and craving some Bojangles.  I was watching the group of teenagers I was responsible for from a distance, thinking about all the things I would do during my off shift, looking forward to 2 weeks off.  My co-instructor came over to speak to me.  She walked me around the corner of the yurt, where I was grabbed by three people, forcefully sat down and blindfolded.  I was told not to move, to wait there.  I shifted once and a hand came to my shoulder as a reminder of my instructions.  

It seemed like 15 minutes before I heard my supervisor's voice.  He told me to stand up and he guided me to a new location.  I lost my bearings and I didn't know where I was anymore.  He told me to sit down, and I could hear the leaves rustle as he walked away from me.  After 5 minutes of silence I could hear voices chanting in the distance, they were coming from several different directions.  I could smell the start of a fire in the distance.

I was yanked up and placed in a new location 3 times.  Each time I would wait in silence for a few minutes before hearing chanting in the distance.  Each time the chanting got closer.  In the final spot I could feel the warmth of the fire and when the chanting stopped, a meeting of elders was taking place.  I could hear them call the gathering to order.  One of the elders was presenting someone for membership.  They described great deeds and accomplishments as they advocated for their membership.  A vote of some kind took place, but I could not see it.  After that, they addressed me.  "You, will you join the circle of elders and leave behind the person you were?"

It took me a moment to realize they were talking to me, but the prod in my back let me know I was expected to answer.  I agreed.  The speaker then said, "because you speak like the wind, gentle and soft but with the ability to muster great power to move the soul, you will be called Windtalker.  Do you accept this new name?" I accepted.  I was then asked to remove my blindfold, place an elaborate document with my old name on it in the fire, and the I was presented to the wilderness community as an elder, a Master Guide.  I was forever more called by the name Windtalker in the wilderness community. 

In this story there are two kinds of waiting.  The anxious-waiting, looking forward to feeding my "pain body" or "flesh" with Bojangles, and then the wonder-waiting at the locations in my ceremony.  When we are encouraged to wait for the Lord, which do you think we are encouraged to do?

I spend a lot more time anxious-waiting than I should.  Anxious-waiting can be identified when you are looking forward to something specific.  You are focused on something that you lack, and you want to fill that gap.  This type of waiting is so focused on what you don't have, that it pulls you out of the moment.  You stop living in the now, and start living in the future or the past, figments of our imagination.  When scripture tells us to wait for the Lord, this is not the type of waiting it is describing.

Wonder-waiting is a whole different beast.  By the time I was moved to the second location I had long since forgotten about Bojangles.  I was curious and full of wonder.  What was happening?  What would happen next?  I was curious, alive, and fully in the moment.  My waiting was no longer focused on me, but it was focused outside of me.  This is the sort of waiting that we are called into.

Lord, help us to wait well.  Help us to turn outside of ourselves.  Develop in us a deep curiosity and wonder for what you are doing.  Amen.

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