Waiting isn’t easy, whether it is for those test results to come back, waiting on direction for a difficult decision or waiting for answers. There is something about waiting that makes us feel like we’re standing over a set table and the food is getting cold with each second and why won’t everyone just show up when we’ve already called three times?!
Waiting doesn’t bring out the best in us. It turns us inside out like a garment and exposes all of our rough edges, our unfinished sides, our untrimmed threads. We can seem like such good and even holy people until we’re asked to wait.
I enjoy watching cooking shows. Not the kind where people calmly put together Beef Wellington in their spotless kitchens but the ones where there are time limits, mystery ingredients, competition. It keeps it interesting. I like when people are forced to improvise, to modify, to sweat and still produce something beautiful. There is something more captivating about beauty when it doesn’t emerge from a perfectly controlled and tranquil environment. When something stunning shows up in the midst of flurry and flour flying and oil spraying and last minute changes and then sits so calmly on its bed of sauce smeared in a wine shaped arc, it gives us hope that it in our flurry and flying and improvisation and sweat that we too can end up with something beautiful.
But sometimes in the hurry, things go awry. The meat usually. It isn’t cooking the way they want. And as the clock ticks down, out come the knives and the chefs invariably start hacking a bigger portion of meat into little pieces, the juices spilling out on the cutting board, seeping away. They say, “I didn’t want to serve raw meat to the judges” and the critique usually is, “Your meat ended up dry. And it really doesn’t look appealing at all.”
Most of the time, the clocks we chase are our own, made of our own expectations or hurry or unwillingness to sit and wait with the hard things. We take what is cooking beautifully, what has been nicely seared to keep the juices in and we start to hack it, watching the juices seep out. We pan fry to hurry it up because raw is intolerable. In our haste we overcook the thing. We lose what we had worked so hard for. We lose what could have been beautiful.
Can we hold in tension a belief that beauty can be born of flurry but that much of our hurry is born of us and our own impatience? If so, we may find a calmness, a tranquility and, with fingers flying or stilled, the hope that all things are made beautiful in His time.