We are not a people used to waiting.
I have a friend who says that our species has devolved since the invention of the microwave. To whit: it is no longer acceptable to wait an entire 50 minutes for a perfectly delicious baked potato. We want that spud and we want it in 6 or under, or that spud can find another mouth.
What about the one hour photo? Not five years ago, that was quick as a wink. Now? We want those photos on our desks, bright and shining, mere seconds after pressing the button. We do not want our books shipped from a printer to a distributor to a store, to which we will then drive and have to choose, spending time wandering aisles, as peaceful and interesting as it may be. We want them now. When we want to read them. Access in seconds.
I am chief of this tribe. I suffer acute gadget envy every time the newest whatchamacallit comes out. I want my phone to be fast, like lightning and to do elevendy things at once: navigate, sing, manage time, and reply to very important tweets from other very important people. My fingers get twitchy when I can’t get online from my phone in less than 15 seconds.
If I don’t get the Steelers score on the way home from church, will they still be winning when I get home unaware of the three touchdowns in the second quarter that put them ahead for a convincing late season victory?
Am I really that important? Is my time really that valuable?
My interest in speed and efficiency has been vexed lately. According to our very smart, very wise, very cool pastor the magi who traveled from the east to find the King. He told us that they traveled in an entourage that would put Mariah Carey to shame. No fewer than 75 people, on foot or on camel, covered a distance of some 900 miles in 9 months, going, on average, 25 miles a WEEK. A week.
Put aside the faith part for a minute and just wrestle with the sheer logistics. When our family drives that distance, it takes us 2 days in a car packed with food. No one dies, although when I start to sing some of the children sometimes feign that they don’t love my dulcet tones. Whatevs. We are never attacked by thieves hiding in the sand dunes. We do not worry about losing a camel or a person. We just get in the car and go.
We, when we get in our laden car and venture east, know where we are going. There are highways, gas stations and plenty of greasy food to get us through. This group is reminiscent of wacky Noah, building his big ole boat. They knew only to follow the star. They didn’t have a GPS. They did not have turnpikes or potty breaks. This was not some cross town venture.
Did they ever sing the “Are We There Yet” Blues? Did they ever think they were on a fool’s errand? Did they ever want to turn this car around and go home?
I am impressed with the endurance of their conviction. How long is too long to wait?
I’ll be looking more at waiting as we move through Advent. What’s best about Advent? Are you a gracious waiter or do you tap your computer’s buttons like a psychotic metronome?