This morning, a boy turns to me and asks, “Can you give me any tips on how to wait for something?”
I’m stumped. I’m floored. I’m overcome with how sweet (but so important) this question is and how many years of his life he’ll be waiting for something. Here he is–just a boy–already waiting and needing to know how to survive the wait.
I’m overcome with how much of life is about waiting. I think every person I know has something they are waiting for. My own waiting–for the dreams of my children, for the plans I’ve made with my husband, for my own novelist longings–are equal parts delight and despair. Waiting is the not yet. It’s a yes and a no at the same time. It’s the impossible focus on two dimensions: hope and the reality of now.
It’s the grand universal Maybe.
I tell the little boy (he’s not so little now–we’re on our 4th year of walking to school together) that all I can offer is this: Focus on the great things right in front of you today. But then I correct myself. I remember the beauty of longing, the joy of waiting because something is coming. I run up beside him and tell him that it’s a great thing to wait. It’s the best thing in the world.
Something is coming. It’s just around the corner. Living with flair means we delight in the Maybe.
Journal: What would you have said to this boy?
We leave to travel for nearly eight weeks today. (Don’t worry, Jack, Louie, and Snowflake have a family living in our home all summer.)
I take one last look around the garden. I realize that nature will offer several gifts when I return:
First, I can look forward to ripe raspberries.
Then, the blackberries.
The beans have just started to send their little tendrils up, so I can harvest them when I return.
And, the peppers! I’ll have so many peppers.
I have to imagine it. I only see the unripe, unfinished, not-yet. But I know how growth works by now. I have hope that the unseen work will continue, and, one day soon, I’ll be up to my elbows in a new season: harvest.
But not yet. That’s just fine. Living with flair means I wait and hope because I know what’s coming.
Journal: What fruit am I hoping for in this next season?
Yesterday, this little girl (the one who lost her first tooth) brings home a homemade bird feeder. She announces that the bagel was “a rotten one, leftover from her teacher’s kitchen,” and the birdseed and spread cannot be eaten by humans.
We hang the bird feeder on the winterberry bush. And we wait.
And we wait.
We wait, wait, and wait some more.
I read somewhere that it takes backyard birds a few days to find a new feeder.
All day today, we stop every few minutes and glance out the kitchen window just in case a bird has arrived. We talk about who might be the first to catch sight of that first little bird.
No birds yet. But the desiring of them, the wait, delights us.
We remember another wait, last April, for a hibernating turtle to emerge from underneath our deck. It feels just like that, this waiting, and we love it.
It feels like the wait for a first loose tooth.
I want to construct more apparatuses designed to teach me the beauty of hope. A backyard bird feeder reminds me to hope today. I wait patiently with my daughters, peer into the landscape ahead, and keep our longing alive. Tomorrow might be the day!
Journal: What am I hoping for, and how do I keep my hope alive?