Even wait time must be redeemed.
Jason Farman counsels us on making good use of waiting times in his article, “How to wait well” (Aeon/Psyche, 30 September 2020).
I was interested to come across this article on waiting just shortly after I published Volume 1, Number 2 of The InVerse Theology Projecton “Wait Time.” Waiting has come to light as a major issue for people in our day: “Waiting has come to characterise much of life in 2020, from waiting for a vaccine to waiting for word from schools about what classes will look like for students, or waiting for jobs to return, or waiting for a Zoom host to start the meeting. As our lives have moved to remote connection, we wait as we’re put on hold for the next customer service representative to sort out our student loan bills, update our internet plans or guide us through the bureaucracy of unemployment benefits. We wait for ‘normal life’ to return, and have become living buffering icons with no sense of when the wait will cease.” Having to wait “makes us feel powerless, anxious, isolated and depressed.”
Mr. Farman suggests we should learn to develop “a relationship with time that sees it as an investment in our social fabric. By investing our wait times in the social circumstances that people around us face, we can build radical empathy with the ways that others are forced to use their time.” He suggests w use our wait times to practice mindfulness, meditation, and stillness, and he offers five practical suggestions:
Identify the cause of your waiting, and meditate on that: “Begin by asking why you’re waiting. The initial answers will likely be shallow responses to a complex situation.” Take your eyes off yourself, and try to see who might benefit from you time having to wait.
We can also use wait time to think ahead, rather than just fuss and fume in the moments of waiting: “My personal practice is to identify what I hope will come on the other side of my waiting. What do I want the future to look like once my delays and wait times are resolved?”
During wait times we can also allow our imaginations to consider issues of problems we’re dealing with, so that creative solutions might emerge. We can invest in people around us, taking an interest in them – or, I would add, praying for them. Sometimes, Mr. Farman suggest, we just need to get angry, since some wait times are altogether unnecessary.
I might offer a few more suggestions: Pray for friends, and send a blast email on your phone to let them know you’re praying. Always have with you something to read and something in which to write. Phone apps are excellent for both of these. Use your wait time to review your day thus far in prayer, and to prepare in prayer for the remainder of it.
Wait time is just time that needs to be redeemed, like all time. We can make the most of it, and articles like this by Jason Farman can help us in developing a strategy for making the most of our wait times for seeking and advancing the Kingdom of God.