Looking around me in my life I find that the single bond, the one certainty we all share is this: we are all waiting. Wherever I turn, whose ever eyes I meet, I see someone waiting – for something better or different, for something that is never there.
Most of us spend our lives pretending that this is not so. With shows of competence or in honest panic we stuff into the empty hollow of expectation all our worldly goods – spouse, children, job, house, car, money, class, status, friends. We work hard; we play hard. But our busy load cannot fill the vacancy, and we have no real holidays, only vacations, days of unfillable, unattended emptiness. After all our apathetic, frantic striving we are still waiting, without will or object, aim or end, always waiting for something better or different, for something that is never there.
And most of us wait with such awkwardness and fatuous pain. Fearful of life, fearful of death, our waiting resolves itself into a general resistance. The poet says, “We are all condemned to death but with a sort of indefinite reprieve.” We attend ourselves in fear, flinching against the instant of our death, rarely embracing the occasions of our life, against which we repeatedly recoil.
Yet there are moments for all of us when we find ourselves waiting graciously, even gratefully. Then we discover a natural gratitude, and this transforms our waiting into longing, and we start out at last on the path which God sets before us.
In this attending is true attention and the beginning of meditation.
John Shinavier, MA aka Swami