What are you waiting for? What are you willing to wait in line for?
I was waiting in line the other day, and it got me to thinking. Like so many of us, I don’t like waiting. There’s so much to do, so many other things demanding my time. Americans, at least, are not good at waiting. Yet here I was, at 7:43 am on a Sunday morning, waiting in line in my car.
In 1983, I waited in line for the Seattle premier of the movie Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. While most of my fellow seniors from the small college I attended were on a Senior Day trip to the San Juan Islands, I chose to go to downtown Seattle and wait in line for tickets for myself and 2 friends. I was there at six or seven AM, with several others, sitting on the sidewalk, waiting. There was a sneak preview at the film festival that was ending, but this was for the first general showing. As the festival goers came out of the theater, they bolstered our spirits, assuring us that we weren’t wasting our time, that it was worth it.
People often wait in line for sports events and live concerts. Maybe you’ve waited in line for a Cabbage Patch doll, or a Play Station, or some similar “must have” for your children. And if you live in a large city, you’ve surely waited in traffic jams. Here in Texas, everyone dreads going to the DMV for a driver’s license. You can usually renew online, but if you’re coming from another state, or for several other reasons that require you to arrive in person, you can count on waiting a couple of hours at least.
Life is full of waiting. It takes nine months of waiting for a baby to come, and 18 years or more for that child to go out on his or her own. (Long or fast years, depending on if you’re the child or the parent.) My dad used to joke that when his ship finally came in, he’d probably be waiting at the airport. A farmer waits for his crops to grow, hoping the harvest is worth the time and hard work. We wait for a diagnosis from the doctor, good or bad.
Others wait for the end of the world. I remember the fervor and flurry of end-of-the-world and/or the return-of-the-Christ prophecies and surrounding movements of the late 1960s and 1970s. Books, movies and debates abounded in many Christian circles. Was it going to be soon? Would the Rapture be before or after the Tribulation? While many waited with near-bated breath, the 1980s came and went. As the world struggles with the current round of political upheaval, the pandemic, and an increasingly hostile climate, I hear some of the same cries that the end times are here. Even if they are, that seems like a gloomy result to be waiting for. The glory of Christ? Sure. Death and destruction? Not so much.
As I looked around at the other cars in line, I wondered about the people inside them. Most would be 65 years old or more. Some, like me, would be under 65, but considered high risk due to health issues. Others would be health care workers or first responders who weren’t able to get their shots with the first, meager rounds in December. That’s right, we were in line to get our first COVID vaccination. We all found it something worth waiting for.
The gates of Ratliff Stadium (of Friday Night Lights fame) were to open at 9:00 am, and I knew I had to get there early. But how early? The local news had warned that porta-potties were in short supply, so there went the idea of taking a thermos of coffee. I got up at sixish, allowed myself one cup of coffee and an apple, emptied my bladder a few times and left. I went prepared with my tablet for reading and a couple of short audio books. By 8:00, my bladder was knocking. So much for the pre-planning. There was a little bit of movement as the caterpillar of vehicles would flex and condense.
By 9:00 am the line began to move steadily, if slowly. I reached the stadium entrance at 10:42, and finally got my shot at 12:03 pm. I know that was the exact time, because that is what the gentleman who administered the shot wrote on the paper that he tucked under my wiper blade. Then it was another 15 minutes of waiting in a different line, to ensure there were no allergic or other untoward reactions.
Finally free to hurry to the grocery store with a restroom about 2 miles away, I felt as if a weight had been lifted.
According to my trip meter, it took four hours and twenty minutes to travel 3.1 miles. Eavesdropping on one of those directing traffic, the line had reached over 5 miles at some point. That’s a lengthy wait by any standard. So, was it worth it? I think so.
I’d rather wait for a vaccination than a hospital bed or a ventilator. And I am glad so many in my community were also willing to wait. Here in west Texas, the concepts of wearing masks and social distancing were met with great resistance at the beginning and through much of this whole experience. Yet 1900+ people received their first vaccinations on Sunday, with more than 1000 each day for the last four days.
That tells me that people care. People care for themselves and for their families. They care for the people in the grocery store and at the gas station. We have been reminded that we are each part of one or more communities. We have responsibility for ourselves and our neighbors, and by getting our vaccinations, we exercise that responsibility by one not so small part.
Speaking with my elderly neighbor on Monday (who also cares for a disabled child), I learned she was afraid to get the vaccine. She’d heard some of the false rumors. We talked about that, but I knew it was pointless. She’s a woman who lives with fear to the point of paranoia. Sad. I can only hope that our area is able to acquire herd immunity soon enough to protect her and her family.
I’m supposed to get the second shot in three weeks. More waiting, but this time will be easier. The question is no longer If but When, and that feels good. Now I can spend my energy waiting for things like Spring, and my husband finding a new job, and rain.
An old scripture song was running through my mind this morning as I walked the dog. Quoting Isaiah 40:31, it goes:
"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles; They will run and not grow weary, They will walk and not be faint." (chorus) Teach me Lord, teach me Lord to wait.
Some translations use the word Hope instead of Wait. In this context, I like Wait because — to me — I get a sense of anticipation, of realization that something is going to happen. Much like I knew the long wait on Sunday would be worth it, there are gifts in life of Spirit, of Love, and of Grace, that come to us from many sources — gifts that are worth seeking and worth waiting for. Gifts that are often right in front of us when we stop to wait and open our eyes.
Grace, Peace, and Hugs to you.