Whatever we are waiting for – peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance – it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart. ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach
I have a friend who once told me that she never prays for patience, because her experience is that whatever she asks for in prayer, God gives her plenty of opportunities to notice that He is providing. Be careful what you ask for!
I’ve only recently started to enjoy time spent waiting. I have not become a patient person, but I am a lot more tolerant of other people’s claims on my time. It’s a lesson from my year as a cancer patient. After years of “not having time” to go to the doctor, I found my calendar completely filled by appointments with various and sundry health care professionals, who true to stereotype, were rarely running on schedule. I learned to count all that waiting room time as part of the journey toward good health, and I even looked forward to reading whatever material was available, finding all sorts of sources of unexpected wisdom, entertainment, and delightful conversation tidbits.
A truth in blogging moment: One of the reasons that I was able to enjoy time spent waiting is that every one of the professionals involved with my care always had time for me when we finally met in the treatment or exam room. It’s not as hard to wait when you know that your concerns will be taken seriously. And in most cases, I genuinely liked the people I was going to see, in fact, I have come to love them.
In one waiting room, I found a National Geographic from 2002 with a photo of an Italian sausage stand at the New York State Fair. “Put some Gianelli in your belly! Put some taste in your tummy! Put some change in your pocket!” I love the Great New York State Fair – all of it, from the smelly animal barns, to the dirty midway, from the Center of Progress and Dairy buildings, to the footsie wootsie machines where you can recharge your aching arches while indulging in the best people watching in the world. And while I don’t know when or where I met my husband, I know it was at the fair that I knew we could have a future together when he wanted to go to the side show featuring Otis the Frog Boy. How could you not love a guy like that?! (I didn’t know until years later that he hadn’t expected that I would enthusiastically agree to go. He meant it as a joke.) I asked if I could take the issue home with me. As soon as I remember what I did with it, I’m going to show Steve.
It all goes back to having an open heart. I recognized that he was who I was waiting for because my heart was open to love. Healing and grace were available to me during the cancer year (as Sarah calls it) because my heart was open to receive them.
I always loved this story, The Most Beautiful Heart, which has circulated on the internet:
One day a young man was standing in the middle of the town proclaiming that he had the most beautiful heart in the whole valley. A large crowd gathered and they all admired his heart for it was perfect. There was not a mark or a flaw in it. Yes, they all agreed it truly was the most beautiful heart they had ever seen. The young man was very proud and boasted more loudly about his beautiful heart.
Suddenly, an old man appeared at the front of the crowd and said, “Why your heart is not nearly as beautiful as mine.”
The crowd and the young man looked at the old man’s heart. It was beating strongly, but full of scars, it had places where pieces had been removed and other pieces put in, but they didn’t fit quite right and there were several jagged edges. In fact, in some places there were deep gouges where whole pieces were missing. The people stared — how can he say his heart is more beautiful, they thought?
The young man looked at the old man’s heart and saw its state and laughed. “You must be joking,” he said. “Compare your heart with mine, mine is perfect and yours is a mess of scars and tears.”
“Yes,” said the old man, “Yours is perfect looking but I would never trade with you. You see, every scar represents a person to whom I have given my love – I tear out a piece of my heart and give it to them, and often they give me a piece of their heart which fits into the empty place in my heart, but because the pieces aren’t exact, I have some rough edges, which I cherish, because they remind me of the love we shared. Sometimes I have given pieces of my heart away, and the other person hasn’t returned a piece of his heart to me. These are the empty gouges — giving love is taking a chance. Although these gouges are painful, they stay open, reminding me of the love I have for these people too, and I hope someday they may return and fill the space I have waiting. So now do you see what true beauty is?”
The young man stood silently with tears running down his cheeks. He walked up to the old man, reached into his perfect young and beautiful heart, and ripped a piece out. He offered it to the old man with trembling hands. The old man took his offering, placed it in his heart and then took a piece from his old scarred heart and placed it in the wound in the young man’s heart. It fit, but not perfectly, as there were some jagged edges. The young man looked at his heart, not perfect anymore but more beautiful than ever, since love from the old man’s heart flowed into his. They embraced and walked away side by side.
Open me up and you will see/I’m a gallery of broken hearts/I’m beyond repair, let me be/And give me back my broken parts. ~ Ingrid Michaelson, Be OK
P.S. Today is the 18th anniversary of the date that we finally stopped waiting for our 9 lb. 12 oz. bundle of joy, born 11 days past her due date! Dear, sweet Laura, you were worth the wait! Extra hugs and kisses from your everloving mother!