Wait: Being “Not-Busy”

One of the things that I hear all too often is “…I know you’re busy, but…”

I might hide it on the outside, but inside I let out a huge sigh whenever I hear it.  I’m not angry at the person speaking; I’m disappointed with myself.  To me, hearing that means that I’m sending off the “busy” vibe that puts people off.  I don’t want to be the kind of person who seems so busy that you need an appointment just to stop by and say, “Hi.”  But, sometimes I throw off that signal, whether I like it or not.  Sometimes I send signals that don’t even need words:  I shut my office door, or peer over my glasses with a half-dazed look on my face when someone walks by, knowing that it probably means they’ll scurry by and I can finish whatever I am working on.

But then, someone makes a remark that catches me in the act of my busy-ness.  When that happens, it makes me pause and think: what am I so busy doing?  Sometimes there is a deadline I’m trying to meet.  Sometimes I have so much wonderful work to do that I don’t have enough hours in the day to do it all (I like to call that being “good-busy”)  But other times, my own sense of wanting to get to the bottom of a seemingly unending “to-do” list is what drives my internal sense of busy.  The list of what remains undone can feel so much greater than my capacity to do it.  That is the not-so-good-busy, and it’s usually when I am most likely to be caught in the act of busy, instead of pausing to realize that the world is much bigger than my to-do list and will not fall apart if something has to go.  The urgency I feel at that point isn’t external.  It’s the still small voice in my soul that often says Wait.  Be present.  Be.

In mentally re-living those moments, I realize that is what I want.  I don’t want to be “busy.”  I want to be willing to wait.  I want to be present with my words and my whole body that I am right there, in that space, listening with whomever I am with.  While I don’t always succeed, that is who I want to be.  I want to be that kind of present with my family, my friends, and my God.

It’s how I hope…and believe…that God is with me, and with all God’s people.

As I sit with this week’s Gospel reading, this juxtaposition between action and waiting is what stands out to me.  There is nothing more motivating and encouraging to the soul than to be affirmed about who we are, and what we are doing.  I hear Mark’s telling of the story, and picture human Jesus wrapped in that mountain-top moment of having just received an incredible gift of affirmation from God.  Jesus…assuming he was a bit like me…would probably want to run with that motivational energy into a whole host of “good-busy” activities that he knew awaited him.  There were obviously people in need of healing, teachings and stories that were craving to be told, miracles of ministry ready to unfold day by day.

But that wasn’t the message of the Spirit.  The emphatic message of the Spirit…which could not be ignored…told him to go to the wilderness.  And wait.  For forty days.  As I read and re-read this passage, I wonder if the metaphorical doves were swooping down as if to say, “I know you’re busy, but…”

So, I empathize with Jesus in this verse.  And I believe Jesus empathizes with us.  There is so much to be done, always.  But, there is also a need to wait.  To listen.  To be present to the ever-loving, all-consuming divine energy that sometimes can only be experienced in the wilderness, with the angels waiting upon us.  Jesus listened, and waited.

What unfolded from that waiting has changed the world.

My prayer for this Lenten day, like this poem written and read by Marie Howe, is simple:  Help Me.

Help me listen to the Spirit.

Help me wait.

Help me Be.


2 thoughts on “Wait: Being “Not-Busy”

    • I love her poem…it’s raw, honest and spot on for how I feel on so many “I need a clone!” days. And yet, even in that tiny space of prayer my heart is waiting, and seeking…

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