Friday, 22 May 2015

Thoughts while waiting


This morning I was waiting for our grocery delivery. We don’t always order our groceries online, and even with free delivery, for no reason I can understand, our money doesn’t seem to go as far when we do. But this week some of us wanted cat food available only from the place we get our groceries when we shop online. So we did that. The delivery slot was 11 – 1 pm, so I waited, and sure enough it came in about the middle of the slot.

Now it’s the afternoon, and I’m waiting for the meat order from Eversfield Farm. That’s the only place I know to get pasture-fed (as opposed to grass-fed) meat. Their delivery slot is the your-guess-is-as-good-as-mine variety. It’s meant to get here by 6pm – or any time earlier in the day – and mostly it does. Though once it just didn’t turn up, they put it in a fridge somewhere, and the slot relocated to the next day. So I spent two days waiting for that particular meat delivery.

We get most of our shopping online – clothes, books, birthday presents. Though there’s usually a postage charge, that’s a lot less than a train or bus fare. And if we go to some town with good shops, looking for purchases takes a while, so generally we want something to eat while we’re out. And of course, if we don’t find what we want, a lot of money has been spent of the train fare and eating out, with no result on the desired thing. So we buy things online, and that involves waiting in for deliveries. What sort of things? A scarf, a tree, a beanbag chair, a hairbrush, a sweater, trousers, funeral shoes – those were some of the recent things different ones of us bought mail order.

This last week has had moments in it so stressful and difficult that it’s sent my mind off track and no good for writing. I’ll come back to that next week. I’d like to go for a walk, or . . . no . . . I can’t think of an ‘or’. Everything apart from going for a walk costs money.

I’ve read some interesting articles online – about gender variety, if you were wondering. I’ve done the puzzles in the Radio Times. I’ll watch Pointless when it comes on the telly. I’ll feed the crows and the seagulls, the badgers and the foxes. I’ll read more of Sam Harris’s book Lying when I’ve finished writing this. Meanwhile, I’m just waiting. Waiting and eating strawberries. Waiting and drinking tea. Six o’clock is not for another two hours and twenty minutes.

However, all this waiting and not-writing and reading about Lying and gender-bending has brought my mind into a kind of point of resolve.

The last few months have been mind-bogglingly expensive. Everything costs more than it did, and the money just seems to flow through my hands like water. I do know where it goes because I keep track, and in any case it all goes to the same place: Away.

So here is what my one-pointed mind is about to erupt into, like a rocket or a boil or something. I am sick sick sick of waiting. To be paid, for the deliveries, for people on indeterminate time schedules to turn up, for it to be time to get up without waking everyone, for things to end and things to begin, for it to be time to set off and time to go home, for the sermon to finish and it be time to sing again. And, I’m sick sick sick of spending money – with all the associated worrying and guilt and failed striving after frugality, and anxiety over the shared finance implicit in marriage.

So, once this pasture-fed meat has finally materialized, that’s it. No more. I am not going to buy things, not going to wait for things. I’ll cut my own hair and clean my teeth with salt and eat whatever’s in the fridge. I’ll go out when I want and stay out forever, by the sea, in the woods, in Komorebi. I’ll work on my book and stop stopping to fulfill errands and expectations.

When I was a student at York University, a friend of my boyfriend (who later became my first husband) saw me standing in the foyer of Vanbrugh College, and asked me, ‘What are you doing?’ And I said, ‘Waiting for Rog’ (my boyfriend). And the mutual friend said something like, ‘That’s what you’re always doing.’ And how right he was.

My childhood had a lot of waiting in it. Afternoon rests, waiting to be allowed to get up. Bedtime in the summer, listening to flies buzzing and the lawn being mowed outside, waiting for elusive sleep. Waiting for the school day to end, for it to be time to go home. Waiting for the bus. Even waiting to pee – ‘Just hang on a bit longer, we’re nearly home, only another five miles’ – sometimes unsuccessfully.

And then the early adult years. The childbearing decade. Waiting for a toddler to fall asleep, walking at the pace of little children, waiting for their father to come home, waiting for an adult to visit.

There has been so much waiting, and it has also been associated with spending money. Being an introverted hypersensitive anxious depressive with permanent low blood pressure dizziness – Geez, nothing like it for keeping you indoors! And the discipline of solitude for writing, keeping at it to the point of feeling physically ill, gutted tired, keeping on. Writing, writing, writing. In the interstices, for the cheerfulness, exploring alter egos and interesting things, the number of online purchases I’ve made! It embarrasses me to even think of it! Eating, shopping, Facebooking, makes pegging away half bearable.

I think I won’t do this any more. In a week or two this book will be done and sent in.

The groceries have come, the meat has arrived, enough enough. No more waiting. From right now, things are going to change. I’m not going to wait any more. But I think . . . I’m not sure . . . how do you do it? What is there to do but wait and write and spend money on groceries and secondhand clothes and books? How does a person, who feels chronically tired and dizzy when she stands up, live? I don’t know, I don’t know. How does a person who can offend other people without even trying, survive outside her own home? How does someone who hasn’t even the stamina for a church service, sits gripping the pew edge willing it to be the end, succeed in joining in with anything? I don’t know, I don’t know. But I think the time is coming to go and see.

I will take a book. I will walk to the sea. I will sit down there. And that will not cost any money, and be somewhere else.


Rebecca said...

Oh, dear. I hope writing out your thoughts while waiting is as therapeutic for you as it sometimes is for me. (Doesn't always "solve" things, but gets 'em out there where I can "own" them, discard them, improve on them, or ruefully embrace them and move on...)

Pen Wilcock said...


Well, I'm hoping my thoughts while waiting will connect somewhere, and find a resonance with other people who are waiting.

Julie B. said...

I can relate to much of what you say about waiting, Ember. You painted a picture of all the waiting we do that I've never considered before. I have felt in the state of waiting for a long time, particularly as Michael's health declined. Now that he's with the Lord, there's a new kind of waiting, and the weird thing is, I'm not sure what I'm even waiting for. Ha! It definitely feels "limbo-ish" though.

I'm asking God to enlarge your purse to hold the coming provisions, to sweep you up in His love so you're hardly aware of the need to wait, for deep refreshing by the sea or wherever you sit with Him, and for mercy, loyalty, joy and peace. And stabilization of blood pressure and ALL THE THINGS.

You have the loving support and prayers and understanding of your devoted readers/friends, dear Ember.... xoxo

Pen Wilcock said...

Oh, yes! That waiting for death! It goes very deep into a person. I can remember lying at the side of my second husband, in the silence of the night, the bright August moon, listening, listening - was he still breathing or had it ceased? Waiting, watching.
I wonder what you are waiting for now? May the new begin in your life, and may it be beautiful. xx

Sue said...

I read your post this morning and thought about it all day as I gardened, and then walked the dogs in the woods. Your words about waiting resonated deeply with me--those are my feelings, too. Where does waiting come from? Where does it begin and end? It comes, I think, from relationship. As soon as I enter into relationship with another person I begin to wait on them (from deliveries to doctors to lovers). But, even if I become a hermit, waiting cannot be eliminated, because there is still the Person of Christ. I am waiting for Him and He is waiting for me.

Money is a tricky thing, because we live in a world where it is the primary form of exchange. Is it even possible to live without it? To my mind, money is meant to be spent. It is provision for the physical. Any surplus we have is meant to be shared. By spending money--using it up--we ensure our poverty.

Which reminds me of something I read awhile ago:

..."As I often say, we could reduce the commandments to two. The first, at the origin of Christianity, is in Christ's invitation, 'Look at the lilies of the field.' He does not simply say they are lilies, but says, "Look at them!" And he shows us how, by contemplating them, we are introduced into the mystery of providence. The second commandment, at the end of the Christian life, consists in these words to the faithful servant: 'Enter into the joy of your Lord.' We are not masochists--the cross is not an end in itself; it is for glory. We Christians are not looking for suffering, but for joy...Christianity is not at all morality and prohibitions--first and foremost it is wonder before things." --Fabrice Hadjadj

Peace keep you. ♥

Pen Wilcock said...

Such interesting thoughts - I like the link you make between waiting and relationship. I agree with you about the money: I like to think of money as currency - an invention made to facilitate the flow (and sharing) of resources. Where it is used for that, it's helpful, because that's what it was made for. Where it's used for hoarding up, it goes bad, like manna.

Gerry Snape said...

...deep sigh....ahhh...good move blogger friend.

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) xx

Anonymous said...

What I loved about reading this was how interesting and different it seemed to me! I think somehow that I do not even have the concept to myself of "waiting"; even when actually waiting for something, I always consider myself to be "doing" something else in the meantime - even at the most boring levels like saying prayers or singing to myself a song, in the few minutes at a clinic or before someone picks up their phone.
It was really a different way of looking at things, to read this. :)

Pen Wilcock said...



Erin said...

Hi Penelope,
I just finished reading your trilogy of The Hawk and The Dove and I enjoyed it very much!

One of the things that struck me about the monastic life- and Father Peregrine in particular- is how much "waiting on the Lord" the monks do. Waiting for God to work in a brother's life, waiting for the Lord to provide for a need (like a replacement abbot or for the good weather to hold in order to bring in the harvest), waiting on God to answer a personal prayer or act as intermediary in a conflict, waiting on God for healing/ release/ rest... everything about the monastic life seems to end up being about waiting on God in one sense or another.

Many things about the monastic life appeal to me. Primarily I think I crave the way in which life is purposely winnowed down to it's elements in order to simply focus. Funny I should come across your blog today and read that you have some of the same leanings. I find a lot of the "to-do"s about contemporary living to be a millstone around my spiritual neck (and my physical, emotional and mental neck too!) and sometimes find myself wistfully imagining I'm in a 14th century convent. But here I am in 2015 trying to listen to God's call... to wait upon the Lord... right where he has me. Waiting for the van to be fixed, waiting for the paperwork to arrive, waiting for the doctor's test results, waiting for my child's heart to soften, waiting for the weather to break.

Today this post has challenged me to examine exactly what it is about the monastic life that I don't have, and desire. Might it be possible for me to live the simple life of a monk in heart and action right where God has placed me in my family, my home, my broken van, my 2015? If I am grumbling about waiting for all these things that smack of fluff and nonsense, can I re-frame my environment to eliminate the fluff I can eliminate and re-frame my heart to view the other things as waiting upon the Lord rather than merely waiting on the world? It's a high-minded goal that I'm not sure I have nailed down to the practicals yet (especially with all these millstones on me!), but I'm willing to try.

Thanks for the encouragement to look higher up, deeper in.

Pen Wilcock said...

Hiya :0)

I think it might be true that the externals don't matter as much as we are inclined to believe. That there are only people and God, and there's less difference between a fourteenth century man trying to be faithful as a monk, and a twenty-first century woman trying to be faithful in her household, than we might imagine.

As long ago as the first century, the same active intervention was required to keep busyness within limits and ensure that our lives are spacious enough to sit at the feet of Jesus. It's there in the story of Martha and Mary.

What I am finding in my own life is how many times, even in a day, I come to a crossroads, and have to choose which way to take. How to respond to that thing someone said that irritated me. Whether to complain about somebody, or just not. Whether to get upset and cross about interruptions and distractions when I'm trying to write. It seems possible that learning to see other people in a kindly light, and embrace what is, with gratitude and curiosity, rather than the whinging and hand-wringing that tends to be my default mode, is at least as much what my life is about as the content f the circumstances themselves. I'm sorry that was such a long sentence. I hope you could follow it!

I do know this; just about any situation it's possible to imagine benefits from simplifying. Problems arise where things accumulate.

You asked: "Might it be possible for me to live the simple life of a monk in heart and action right where God has placed me in my family, my home, my broken van, my 2015?" Yes, I think it might be.