A Moment to Reflect

28 August 2020

A Moment to Reflect -93

Gyeongbok Palace, Seoul, 2012


It has been said, “Our everything-on-demand culture has destroyed our ability to wait.” (Carrie Dedrick‘When waiting is the last thing you want to do.’)

I think that’s only partly true. We have certainly become less patient, less willing to wait in all sorts of circumstances. But I believe we do still have the ability to wait, if we’re prepared to learn how to and willing to practise getting better at it. There is, of course, more than one kind of waiting.

Like yesterday’s photograph, this one was an attempt to capture a specific single moment that would sum up what was actually a quite fast-moving scene. I had to wait for the moment when the dancing drummers were lined up in the right composition. I wanted the picture to give some idea of their movement and at the same time reflect the shapes of the very static mountains in the backdrop. Having watched them closely, I knew that there was likely to be such a moment and I didn’t want to miss it, but it meant that I had to wait for that moment.

That is one kind of waiting—waiting for something specific (and expected) to happen.

It is a kind of waiting that is present throughout much of the ‘big story’ of the Bible, where there are many instances of waiting and longing for something new to happen. The pain of such waiting, when that moment is slow to arrive, is articulated in some of the Psalms, with the phrase “How long, O Lord?

But there is another kind of waiting that is not so much focused on any future moment as making the most of the present moment and, in particular making those moments a time to enjoy being rather than doing.

And, this is also a way of waiting that is expressed in the psalms, for example, 

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”—Psalm 27:14

Henri Nouwen speaks of something similar.

“How do we wait for God? We wait with patience. But patience does not mean passivity. Waiting patiently is not like waiting for the bus to come, the rain to stop, or the sun to rise. It is an active waiting in which we live the present moment to the full in order to find there the signs of the One we are waiting for.” —Henri Nouwen