Saturday, March 29, 2014

Waiting

Waiting.  I have never been patient when it comes to waiting.  Since seminary, however, I have tried to catch myself when I've become impatient. "Wait.  Breathe.  Be in the moment."  Surprisingly, that little mantra helps more often than not.  Somewhere along the way, someone must have gotten through to me that there are graces in the waiting.  Feeling the presence of the Holy who is waiting patiently with you.  In the moment, I am able to observe people around me - not just take attendance - but notice their expressions, how they are holding their bodies, when they smile.  Consciously saying "no" to the tapping foot and not giving credence to the feelings of wanting to "jump out of your skin" actually does make a difference.

When I remember Wait. Breathe. Be. I experience the world in suspended peacefulness.  Like the time when I couldn't climb the trail with Tim because of my asthma.  I sent him on his way, laid back on the ground, and waited.  I focused on slowing my breathing.  I watched the leaves moving gently on the breeze.  I smiled at the confused ants making their way around me.  I was able to see God.

This week, I don't believe I was as successful.  Too bad, as I really needed my waiting skills.  Waiting for Tim during his colonoscopy was not difficult.  I busied myself with some chaplain duties until I was paged.  Shortly after I entered the room, Dr. Coffman appeared.  Feeling pleased with myself for being calm, collected, and in control soon vanished as he began to show me colored images, and I heard the word "mass."  The room was spinning and my brain struggled to grasp that this was reality and not a dream.

Providence Hood River Memorial
Waiting from Wednesday afternoon to Friday was not accompanied by a lot of people-watching or insect-investigation.  I frantically disentangled myself from work duties for a leave of absence. Tim drove to Portland to pick up Isaac whose presence was reassuring and much welcomed.  Overnight Tim kept saying "I just want to get this over with."  He was not doing overly well on the waiting thing either.

Watching Tim be rolled down the hall by the anesthesiologist for his surgery left a large pit in my stomach.  Isaac redirected us to get food and settle into a place in the waiting area.  We say quietly next to each other: he worked on school work and I fiddled with Facebook games.  A colleague at the admissions desk called me over to help with a spiritual care call and later with a Spanish speaking caller. I forgot to Wait.  I forgot to Breathe.  I forgot to Be.  I was using all of my energy praying and trying not to cry.

The nurse came to report that they were closing.  Tim did well.  We went back to wait for the doctor.  Impatience took control again as 15 minutes became 45. When Dr. Coffman appeared, Isaac and I listened intently as he described the extent of the surgery.  "Removed the right colon" seemed to blanket my vision, and I felt increasingly tunneled.  The doctor was compassionate, caring, and did not sugar-coat the range of possibilities.

Now there was more waiting.  Waiting for Tim to come to his room upstairs.  Waiting for a week for final pathology to know with certainty if there was cancer.  Waiting.

But being able to see Tim, to watch his breathing and listen to the IV machine click and whirl, is calming.  I look out  of the immense windows facing north.  While Mt. Adams is still shrouded in cloud, the sun is shining on wet streets and the peaceful Columbia.  As I wait during Tim's hospital recovery, I see the Holy hugging the mountains in fluffy circles of cloud.  I see the Holy in the rising and falling of his chest.  I see the Holy in the gentle touch of Nurse Danyelle.  I see the Holy in Isaac's presence as he types his paper.  I remember - Wait. Breathe. Be with God.

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