Waiting...

Funny how a body can tell you things you don't want to know, yes?  Especially if you aren't paying attention.  All of a sudden, last night, flu symptoms descended on me like gang busters ~ and today they aren't any better.  So day is going to be spent waiting ~ and trying to pay attention to what is happen while I wait.

The poet, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, once spoke of waiting like this ~ something I really like but rarely accomplish:


I am waiting for my case to come up  
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting  
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier  
and I am waiting  
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead
and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe
for anarchy
and I am waiting
for the final withering away
of all governments
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Second Coming  
and I am waiting
for a religious revival
to sweep thru the state of Arizona  
and I am waiting
for the Grapes of Wrath to be stored  
and I am waiting
for them to prove
that God is really American
and I am waiting
to see God on television
piped onto church altars
if only they can find  
the right channel  
to tune in on
and I am waiting
for the Last Supper to be served again
with a strange new appetizer
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for my number to be called
and I am waiting
for the Salvation Army to take over
and I am waiting
for the meek to be blessed
and inherit the earth  
without taxes
and I am waiting
for forests and animals
to reclaim the earth as theirs
and I am waiting
for a way to be devised
to destroy all nationalisms
without killing anybody
and I am waiting
for linnets and planets to fall like rain
and I am waiting for lovers and weepers
to lie down together again
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Great Divide to be crossed  
and I am anxiously waiting
for the secret of eternal life to be discovered  
by an obscure general practitioner
and I am waiting
for the storms of life
to be over
and I am waiting
to set sail for happiness
and I am waiting
for a reconstructed Mayflower
to reach America
with its picture story and tv rights
sold in advance to the natives
and I am waiting
for the lost music to sound again
in the Lost Continent
in a new rebirth of wonder
I am waiting for the day
that maketh all things clear
and I am awaiting retribution
for what America did  
to Tom Sawyer  
and I am waiting
for Alice in Wonderland
to retransmit to me
her total dream of innocence
and I am waiting
for Childe Roland to come
to the final darkest tower
and I am waiting  
for Aphrodite
to grow live arms
at a final disarmament conference
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting
to get some intimations
of immortality
by recollecting my early childhood
and I am waiting
for the green mornings to come again  
youth’s dumb green fields come back again
and I am waiting
for some strains of unpremeditated art
to shake my typewriter
and I am waiting to write 
the great indelible poem 
and I am waiting
for the last long careless rapture
and I am perpetually waiting
for the fleeing lovers on the Grecian Urn  
to catch each other up at last
and embrace
and I am awaiting  
perpetually and forever
a renaissance of wonder

Like me, he is a sometime smart-ass who tries to temper his restlessness with a little more silence every day instead of commentary.  I have found this to be helpful ~ mostly shut up is one of this year's Lenten mantras ~ a meat and potatoes way of saying "Be still and know that I am God."  Ferlinghetti wrote this poem in 1958 ~ that's a lot of waiting ~ and also a humble reminder that paying attention and shutting up takes a ton of practice.

One thing waiting for the stomach flu to be over suggests to me has to do with solitude: nobody wants to be around you when you are sick like this.  And clearly I needed some "away time" from people and doing.  Like many men ~ and way too many clergy ~ I forget this truth every year.  So rather than plan periodic retreats for reflection and soul food, I get sick.  You would think that after all this time ~ 30+ years ~ I would get it, right?  And sometimes I do... for a while... and then I have to wait for some passing bug to help me into the quiet.  Don't get me wrong, I love people and the faith community I serve is compassionate and real.  And still...

C.P Cavafry's poem, Waiting for the Barbarians, puts it like this:

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?

The barbarians are due here today.

Why isn’t anything happening in the senate?
Why do the senators sit there without legislating?

Because the barbarians are coming today.
What laws can the senators make now?
Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.

Why did our emperor get up so early,
and why is he sitting at the city’s main gate
on his throne, in state, wearing the crown?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and the emperor is waiting to receive their leader.
He has even prepared a scroll to give him,
replete with titles, with imposing names.

Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today
wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?
Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,
and rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?
Why are they carrying elegant canes
beautifully worked in silver and gold?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and things like that dazzle the barbarians.

Why don’t our distinguished orators come forward as usual
to make their speeches, say what they have to say?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and they’re bored by rhetoric and public speaking.

Why this sudden restlessness, this confusion?
(How serious people’s faces have become.)
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
everyone going home so lost in thought?

Because night has fallen and the barbarians have not come.
And some who have just returned from the border say
there are no barbarians any longer.

And now, what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
They were, those people, a kind of solution.


When the sick waiting is over, this will be another very busy week so I need to find my calendar and make good use of the sickness:  take charge of calendar so that the time between now and Easter doesn't make me sick again.  Or, at the very least, make sure I take a nap today rather then try to productive.

Robert Bly's poem about climbing into bed is another answer to unspoken prayer and paying attention:

There's no end to the joy of climbing into bed,
And hearing your wife rustling about nearby;
There's no end to the delight of the huge covers.

There's no end to the delight of hearing your body
Rumbling and the night waiting to capture you,
And take you off to your childhood bed.

There is no end to the joy of sensing your toes
Feel around at the bottom of the bed,
For the invisible dog that is sleeping there.

There is no end to thanking your parents;
There is no end to rubbing your feet after a run,
No end to the delight when the door closes.

There's no end to the joy of snuggling down
And pulling up the covers after you,
And saying goodbye to the world once more.

Isn't it enough - this being done for now,
And sensing the sea closing over you,
Free at last from intelligence with its huge hands.

There is no end to enjoying it again
And again, this dawdling at the end of day
And so slipping backward toward childhood again.

  

Comments

Popular Posts