God’s waiting room

Friday, May 26, 2023

Memorial of Saint Philip Neri, Priest

(click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

God’s waiting room

I made no delay. Paul’s accusers stood around him with issues about their own religion and about a certain Jesus who had died, but who Paul claimed to be alive. I asked if Paul were willing to go to Jerusalem to stand trial, but Paul appealed that he be held in custody for the Emperor’s decision. So I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar.

There is much waiting in the active spiritual life. Listening to God’s voice inside him, Paul went to Jerusalem, after which matters mostly were taken out of his hands. He was arrested and taken to Caesarea, where he spent two years waiting. In a prison ship he went to Crete and then Malta, where he spent three months of the winter. After a shipwreck he arrived in Rome, where he spent at least two more years imprisoned in a private house.

But Paul was not silent in these waiting times. Never was he silent. So I wonder to myself if he was waiting after all. Waiting for what? My friend Sheryl’s dad, who is 90, told her he does what needs to be done each day, and then he is thankful. I guess he could be waiting to die, but it doesn’t sound that way.

Do I need a plan for my own future? I get older, and those plans are subject to change more than ever. I was told yesterday that I will be waiting in Austin for an aortic valve replacement rather than leaving for Illinois in a week. All it took, a month ago, was for my doctor in Urbana listening to my lungs to hear an unexpected, new murmuring sound in my heart, and that started the medical ball rolling. I was already feeling better. I could easily have skipped that appointment.

When you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted. But when you grow old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.

So can I relax as matters are taken out of my hands? I’d like to keep my eyes open and my ears alert during each day’s life, and that should be easier if I don’t have so much already planned and figured out.

In the large clinic waiting room yesterday nearly everyone was a baby boomer. Our most physically active days are behind us. We carried canes, some of our bodies shook, a few of us carried oxygen tanks. Most of us were pretending to feel better than we did. Wanting to be anywhere else.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.

I remembered the locker room in high school after a PE class or a cross country meet, self-consciously naked, unable not to compare myself to the guys around me. I wasn’t very good at the locker room gig. And I realized that I also have no idea how to “do” a waiting room like this, or a surgical procedure like this, or its aftermath. I certainly have no idea how to die.

But neither do any of these other folks. Margaret didn’t, two years ago. My mom, and her mom, and my dad, my Aunt Mary … none of them had any idea. And those kids in high school? They were clueless, just like me.

So I plan to just keep my eyes and ears open. This is a fascinating time of life, and I want to learn how to do what needs to be done each day, and then be thankful.

(Acts 25, Psalm 103, John 14, John 21)

(posted at www.davesandel.net)


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