Friday, January 15, 2010

The waiting room

Spent the morning on the exceedingly comfortable straight-backed chairs of a waiting room, with a vanilla latte and cranberry-orange scone to keep me company.  After the travel mug was empty and the scone long-gone, a doctor burst through the door and said, "Wow, those were some terrible tonsils!"  Yes, my grown-up baby boy had his tonsils removed this morning.  The doc said the infections had been so bad, over so many years, it had permeated into the muscles at the back of his throat, causing deep scarring. "These are easily the worst tonsils I'll see in the next three months, probably in the top five worst of the entire year."  Puts to death any lingering doubt about whether removing those beasts was a good idea, and worth all the pain in front of him for the next week!

Oh, the times I've spent in waiting rooms of one kind or anothe, for one family member or another.  Once my dad went in for colon cancer surgery in Seattle.  Little sister, RE, her new baby SE, and I drove across the state to sit with a whole crowd of family members in the waiting room.  Half way across the state, I fell coming down the hill from a restroom, and by the time we got to Seattle, went straight to the emergency room.  I'd broken a bone in my foot, refused to have a cast put on it (it was just three weeks before I had to squeeze my foot into the highest heels I ever wore--before or since--for my wedding to my beloved giant), then went up stairs and sat with my mom, two aunts, a grandmother, two sisters and one small niece.  Dad's surgery lasted thirteen hours that day, so I think my broken foot was a bit of a distraction for all of us.

There were weeks in an ICU waiting room while Beve's mom was dying of cancer, recent weeks in another ICU waiting room while Glo was dying of every other thing.  Days and hours and minutes in waiting rooms for one procedure or another.  One night a dozen years ago, we took SK to the ER with severe stomach pains and nausea because I suspected (rightly so) that she was having an acute attack of appendicitis. By the time the doc, nurses, and anaesthesiologist got there to remove that offending appendix, it was about one in the morning and I was alone in the waiting room (Beve having gone home to be with our other two kids for a few hours), shivering at the unnatural quiet, feeling sick--two parts worry, one part from the stink of old, overcooked coffee across the room.

Truthfully, most waiting room experiences are pretty dreadful (unless it's the wait which ends with, "It's a boy/girl!" For instance, I think of the long waits I've had before mammograms. Those are pretty intimate procedures (for those of you who've never had--and never will have--one). I'm not a fan, really I'm not! Taking half my clothes off, having to be manipulated by a stranger woman, then flattened, like a roller over blacktop.   The first time I had one, I turned to the woman and said, "Shoot, can't we at least exchange names first?"

Waiting rooms with little to read (I always bring my own book--who wants old copies of Parenting, WebMD, Sports Illustrated?), and not much to look forward to.  Waiting for the thing to happen, the appointment, the procedure, the explanation, the results.  Waiting to find out whether there's hope or not. Waiting.

I think, though, that in some ways, all of life is that waiting room. Romans 8: 19 says: "The whole creation waiting in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed, and verse 23continues: "...we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoptions, the redemption of our bodies."

So though we are saved by faith (see Romans 10: 13 and Ephesians 2:9-10), there's something more to wait for.  Indeed, not only do we--the wholly human ones who are His heirs--await it, but all of creation waits with us.  This more is for our entire selves to be redeemed, body, mind and spirit.  Creation awaits this as well, because when that culminating redemption occurs, there will also be a new heaven and a new earth.  We await the return of Christ, and await His Glory to be revealed--through our redeemed, new bodies.

However, the waiting room, which is our present reality, only bears the smallest resemblance to a hospital/doctor's waiting room.  Those are stagnant places, empty of personal activity.  The waiting on earth of the faithful is active.  Wholly and gloriously active.  No matter how quiet we might appear on the outside while we wait (especially if in a season of waiting, such as I am currently), within there is always action.  Always the powerful action of the Spirit moving and breathing and having His being in us.  There's a hum in the room of our lives, and that hum is Him.  We wait, and He hums, and we wait, and He moves in us.  We wait.  What if all of this life--the glorious colors of spring flowers, the majestic sharpness of the Rockie Mountains, the grandeur of the deepest Canyons, and the breath-catching sweep of oceans--what if all of the best this world (and the whole universe) has to offer, is merely the most dismal of waiting rooms?  Maybe the new heaven and new earth promised is so much more magnificent that we do not have eyes to see it.  Maybe we need our re-created eyes to see what God has in store in the new earth.  Maybe all the world is merely the waiting room.  And what's beyond is more than we could ask or imagine.  That would make--does make--it worth the wait.

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