I’m sitting in a comfy chair at one of my favorite places in the whole wide world today! Disney World? Outback Steakhouse? Nope, a waiting room!
Waiting is a lost art. Stillness doesn’t come naturally, but somewhere deep down, I thirst for it.
So here I sit, all alone in the waiting area of Total Auto Care, while around the corner, a man is draining the old oil out of my car and putting in new. It’s nearly silent, and for the first time in two weeks, I’ve somehow carved out some time to read, to reflect and to write — things that are good for the soul.
I guess I should get my car’s oil changed more often because apparently that’s what it takes for me to be still. Why is it that I feel guilty when I sit quietly on my own couch in my own home to read a good book or listen to a new worship album? Pesky Protestant work ethic, always pushing me toward busyness, chronic overscheduling, constant motion, ceaseless activity.
Ironic, because the Bible itself has a lot to say about rest. I mean, God even made taking a day off one of this top ten commandments! He designed us in a way that we need to spend a full 1/3 of our lives unconscious — recharging. We are like cars. Our oil gets worn out, and sometimes we need to go to the shop.
Another client has come in and taken a seat beside me. He alternates pacing and sitting, pacing and sitting. I can tell he wants out of here, but I’m secretly hoping my simple oil change takes a little while longer. I love waiting rooms and the little slice of solace they bring to my life.
I love church sanctuaries and Publixes too. Everywhere I go, I have this weird compulsion to see what the inside of a particular city’s Publix looks like. It’s kind of disappointing because they always look the same, but I still do it. And I love seeing church sanctuaries too. I opening the door and taking a seat in the pews or chairs, smelling the old wood or the remnants of concert haze in the air, listening for sound, searching for sight.
Sometimes, I’ll disappear into my own church’s sanctuary in the middle of the day and sit all alone in the complete darkness — and it is complete darkness. I look up, and all I can see are distant stars on a field of inky black sky — actually blue lights from WiFi access points, red lights from projectors and green lights from exit signs, but still beautiful galaxies in my imagination. My ears come alive to hear subtle sounds of silence. And most importantly, my soul opens up to Gods spirit speaking.
Strip away the world’s noise, and you’ll be surprised how loudly God is talking. It doesn’t have to be in a sanctuary. It can be on a long car ride. It can be in a hot tub. It can even be in a waiting room while your oil is changed. Soon enough, they’ll call my name and I’ll be back in the real world where there is no time for these simple pleasures. Or is there? Maybe I’ll take the long way back home.