I am not a very patient person. We’re half way through March and it’s snowing today. Part of me is eager for one last sleigh ride, but underneath, I’m waiting for spring. Sound familiar? For those on the west coast, you may be waiting for rain. And for those in the Midwest or South, you probably share one or the other of these desires. There are many more things than seasons to wait for. What does the act of waiting conjure up in you?
Waiting for a seed to pop its green shoot up through the earth sprouts my excitement. Waiting for someone to join me for coffee can spark my worry that they might have forgotten. Waiting for a relationship to heal is for me, the hardest of all. It requires patience.
As Joseph Campbell says: “We must let go of the life we have planned so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”
What is the difference between waiting and hoping? When I wait for something to change—be it a seed, the time of day, or a healing to take place—I am open to the moment. Waiting is a form of presence, allowing the change to happen in its own time.
Hope summons an image. It is a form of overlaying the present with a picture of the future. We can hope that spring arrives soon, or that our friend is just parking the car and will walk into the coffee shop momentarily. We can hope that a relationship will find a place of healing before some future event occurs that we had planned to be at together.
The difference is what we do with hope. If hope brings a smile to our face, or passes us by like sun through a cloud, it is a good thing. If it stimulates us into useful action, we might even remedy a situation. But if hope causes us to feel anxious, or propels us to move too quickly, it is better to wait. Somewhere between the two is balance.
When I think of waiting vs. hope, I am reminded of the chapter from my memoir, called, Planting Fava Beans: “I marvel at the potential for everything to grow, even when planted upside down. A seed doesn’t need to know it is a Fava bean. It just does a quiet somersault and keeps on growing.”
What does the act of waiting awaken in you?