Monday, March 18, 2013

Waiting Room - as a Sanctuary

     Stuck in a waiting room. You could, at any time, voluntarily go and sit in some waiting room - let's say at the doctor's office, or the car repair place. You don't have to prove you're supposed to be there! But who would choose to spend time in a waiting room?

   In recent years they have snazzed up waiting rooms so you hopefully won't mind waiting so much. The one I'm sitting in as I type this has 5 wide screen TVs, a snack bar, free coffee, an aquarium, and little work stations with free internet access.

   But a waiting room still makes me grimace. If it's the doctor's office, I whine (silently, in my head) about why physicians keep you waiting so long; I'm a professional, I see people in a timely manner... Or if I'm in the auto repair place, I strum my knuckles and wish I'd paid attention when my dad taught me to change the oil. I bring work, and sometimes get more done in a waiting room where there are no interruptions.

   I may get carried away by my fantasies, but I imagine Jesus chooses to hang out in waiting rooms. He's not staring idly at the TVs or checking his email. He notices the people. They don't sit next to each other, do they? You pick a seat comfortably distant from the other guy. But what's his story? Especially outside the doctor's office: that woman, that couple, that child? Is it cancer? If he's in a waiting room, he may not know himself.

   So maybe you just shut down the computer or close your book, and say a prayer. You have a lot in common with that stranger. You're both waiting, you're both somewhere you wouldn't choose to be. You're both in a place Jesus chooses to be with you.

   Maybe you recall your guilt over not having enough time to pray or read the Bible (or these emails) - those worship things you forget to repeat between Sundays. You're waiting on the car, and you open a Bible. God's Word comes alive in an unlikely place - and inevitably somebody sees you doing so, and either rolls his eyes and moans, or smiles and even snuggles up to ask you about it. A gentle witness to the presence of God.

     The waiting room: in a way, our entire life is like a waiting room. You didn't choose to be here, and ultimately you aren't staying here either. What to do during the wait - or during this life! - to prepare to go where you're really headed?
     A lovely praxis: Transforming a waiting room into a sanctuary, a worshipful place.