The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. – Lamentations 3:25
Waiting is a part of life common to us all.
We wait for flowers to bloom, for seasons to change, for growth to happen.
We wait for the microwave, the waffle maker, the clothes dryer. We wait for spring break, for summer to come, for college acceptance letters. We wait in standstill traffic, for a light to turn green, for the big game to kick off, for the show to begin. We wait at the doctor’s office, the DMV, the airport, in line at the restroom. We wait for test results, a medical diagnosis, for an injury to heal. We wait to conceive, for a child to be born, for the tantrum to be over.
We wait for the roller coaster, the workday to end, the vacation to begin. We wait for the pitch to come, for the market to turn, for the house to sell. We wait during renovations, for the paint to dry, for an accident to clear. We wait on ferries, buses, airplanes, trains, and automobiles.
Sometimes waiting happens overnight, at others during the day. Waiting can be a matter of seconds, but feel like eternity. The opposite can also be true.
We may wait in sadness, grief, joy, peace, or confusion. Waiting can be challenging, freeing, or somewhere in between. We may get agitated while waiting, leading us to impatient anger.
We often pass the time while waiting with eyes glued to a device.
Our Muslim friends have much to teach us about waiting. Beginning this Sunday, more than a billion worldwide will begin the 30-day observance of Ramadan
. During this season, the faithful will fast from food and water from sunrise each day to sunset. They will pray in the morning for strength, during the day in gratitude to God, and in the evening to break the fast and partake in the feast. They will come together in mosques, celebrating this holy time with their communities.
Many minutes and hours will be spent waiting. For a taste of food, for a sip of water. Their bodies will growl, ache, and remind them of the time that seems to pass ever-slowly. Patience will be tested, along with endurance, strength, and faithfulness. They will surely face moments of temptation; wonder about breaking the fast prematurely.
And the feast at the end of each day will hold a taste like no other. Not only will food and water nourish, but each bite will be eaten with gratitude and perspective.
Fasting during Ramadan is a spiritual discipline – where the waiting takes on a different measure. This sort of waiting involves growing in relationship with God and one another. It is not goal-oriented, monotonous, or passive. A fast serves to remind the faithful of the nourishment that can only be truly given by the One who creates.
There must be something sacred about this act, as many other religious traditions practice seasonal fasting.
Yes, waiting is something we all must do in life. May we wait with a different lens – seeing the gift that every moment and breath has to offer.