The man with the chain saw has come and gone and now the wood lies strewn about our yard.
Mostly pine, it is fresh and sticky and heavy. It is too green and too laden with sap to be used immediately. In fact, it will need to dry for two years before it is ripe enough for firewood. For several reasons: fresh wood doesn’t burn as well or as efficiently as dried wood; and I imagine that fresh sap cannot be good for our chimney.
I grab our Hechinger wheelbarrow (too historic to replace though it has one dented leg and is a bit metal-fatigued, but it still hauls just fine; I should only be so functional when in such shape), round up the logged loot and begin to build a new wood pile that will lay there til the winter of 2011/2012 (we should all live and be well!).
As I did so, it occurred to me that here I was, working hard to store away goods that I will not touch, and will not use, for at least two years. How odd that feels in a world of immediate gratification, instantaneous communication, and 24/7 access.
Waiting, it seems, is a fading art. Where else, I wondered, do we labor so hard only to then sit and wait?
A good meal from our oven. But that is only a matter of minutes or hours at the most.
College acceptances (the last throes of which my youngest son is now experiencing). But here too that is at most only five or six months, albeit excruciating ones.
Business. Turning a profit. But we don’t actually totally wait. We labor over it every day and sometimes take advances, unrealized future profit, to tie us over. Indeed the inability to occasionally defer this quarter’s gains is part of the national malady that prevents us from making the green investments we need.
So that brings me back to nature. Nature forces us, teaches us, to wait. We plant a field and wait for it to ripen. We plant a tree and wait for it to bring forth fruit. We throw things away and wait for waste to become humus. We wait for the seasons. We wait for the healing to be complete. We wait for the pregnancy to come to term.
We may have microwave ovens and high speed transit and instant communication. But nature cannot be rushed. It will move at its own speed. We cannot force time, or do so only at our distinct peril.
Though waiting was the norm in times gone by, it has become a spiritual discipline that we must re-learn today.
Faith teaches us about waiting. Waiting for blessings, waiting for redemption. The Psalms speak about waiting, yearning and waiting. Shabbat teaches us waiting, resting and waiting.
There are six other days of the week we are to labor to bring the redemption, to make our food and tend to the needy. Shabbat is a day of deferring our work, of celebrating enough, of sitting, of being and waiting.
Waiting teaches us that not everything is in our hands. Not everything can be forced, not everything can be scheduled, not everything comes when it is bidden.
So we must learn to wait.
And if we can allow ourselves to settle deeply into this waiting, if we can breathe with the seasons, slow into time, then perhaps a sweet and restorative portion of peace will be ours.