N.B. Knowing that friends in Europe will be reading, and being confounded by parts of this note, highlights for me our American behavior, truly (amusingly?) unique in all the world.
Several years ago, the first Krispy Kreme donut shop opened in Minneapolis, Minnesota. On opening day, there was a line of waiting cars stretching down the street for almost a mile. Police were called in to help direct traffic around the blocked traffic lane.
From Monday morning to Friday morning, the nearly 16,000 US Starbuck’s coffee shops are packed, both inside and in the drive-thru lane, by sleep-deprived individuals hoping for an infusion of caffeinated wake-up, their shot of medicinal charisma, for the day ahead.
At Disney World in Orlando, Florida, it is not uncommon for visiting families waiting to get in to some exhibits or on to some rides to be required to endure an hour’s wait, often under a blistering sun accompanied by sweltering humidity.
Ironically, we call it rush hour – that time of day when all traffic is barely moving, much less rushing. Somewhat anxiety-producing in the morning when there is an important meeting about to begin. Crushing at the end of the day when the only desire is to be kicked back, at home, with a beverage and snack at hand.
Not exclusive to the US, is the now familiar, recorded voice on the phone reassuring us that our call is very important, and inviting us to hold, as a customer service representative will be with us shortly, after which scratchy elevator music soothes us for as long as we can possibly tolerate being soothed.
Yes, our modern world, with its long list of conveniences, also includes a great deal of waiting. For Jesus’ disciples, there were times of waiting as well, but none as unnerving as the days following his return to his Father. Up until now waiting meant for sunrise, for sunset, for harvest, for after the storm, for the nets to be cleaned and repaired, for the meal to be cooked. This was new. Different. This waiting lacked definition. This waiting dredged up fears and doubts, caused nerves to fray, tempers to flair. This waiting came on them unexpectedly and was longer lasting than the few minutes for which they had originally hoped. This waiting seemed unmoved by their pleading, their desperation, their sleepless nights. This waiting felt like abandonment. This waiting felt like all love had evaporated. This waiting felt like an endless night, a trial that had no end. This waiting was pressing down mightily on their faith. Let’s talk more about that tomorrow at 10 AM, 3 PM, 4 PM. PD