19. Waiting


… For the flight to Manchester that will leads to a train to Sheffield and then a weekend of meeting S.’s folk….

Then the Wait, actively I suppose, for time and life to work its magic and meld these two journeys — separate, distinct but converging — into a coherent whole…

#Hopeful

(Trusting) God’s Design In Detours

From today’s John Piper Devo:

Have you ever wondered what God is doing while you are looking in the wrong place for something you lost and needed very badly? He knows exactly where it is, and he is letting you look in the wrong place….

And your agonizing, unplanned detour is not a waste — not if you look to the Lord for his unexpected work, and do what you must do in his name (Colossians 3:17). The Lord works for those who wait for him (Isaiah 64:4).

Comforting, particularly given how the last few days have felt like I am back here again.

 

#68 – On Waiting

A year ago if you asked me how good I was with waiting, I suspect without giving it much thought I would have gone for somewhere between 9 and 9.5 on a scale of 1 to 10. What I am finding out to my chagrin, prompted by a few events and a conversation with my friend M (in which I get the blame for the unravelling of a certain situation) is that I suck at this waiting business.

Waiting by its very definition has connotations of control; of self, of events and of expectations. Implicit in this definition is a sense of patience, for the inner workings of machinery set in motion by something else to run its course. It is perhaps this form of waiting that I have struggled most with over the last year. The situations where I have had very clear end goals are those in which my impatience  have cost me the most; ones in which the reality of the situation has not quite matched the pace and direction I have envisaged in my head. I suspect I also sometimes balk at the idea of trust, where the end goal is less clear and the vulnerability inherent in being powerless to affect an outcome.

Lessons to learn here, clearly.. I can only hope I get there again…

Winter’s first salvo, waiting for Ally and a curious case of begging..

The much threatened snow storm finally hit, and when it did it was an anti-climax of sorts. Rather than the promised chaos and long tail backs, there were only mild disruptions at most. I suspect the winter has a lot more sting in its tail, but its first salvo has been under-whelming at worst. Given the town’s penchant for gory, frightful winters, I’ll take under-whelming any time.

One evening, I am standing just inside the doors at Union Square – earphones plugged in with The Script on repeat, hands in my coat pockets and looking out – as the maelstrom of humanity just belched out by the 18:17 train from Dyce sweeps by. I am usually at home by this time – heaters fired up, warm drink in hand, catching up on re-runs of NCIS – but I am out today waiting to pick up a friend whose train should have arrived a few minutes earlier. He and I haven’t met up in at least three years – I suspect it’s probably more – even though we have kept in touch via email and the odd phone call here and there. He has been holidaying, taking in the sights of Europe and gate crashing one party too many whilst checking yet more places off his places-to-see-before-I-die list. A chance conversation a couple of weeks before helped make up his mind to toss in a sleep over at mine – the final pit stop before the train that is his holiday hurtles on to Nigeria and a return to the drudgery of work. A quick glance at the arrivals board at the station alerts me to the unfortunate fact that his train has been delayed by a further fifteen minutes.

Out of the corner of my eye I see a man – I reckon he is at least 6-2 as he has at least a head on me – hovering around in the manner of one either lost or a predator lurking, waiting for an opportune moment to strike. Instinctively, I shorten the straps on my knapsack and hug my coat a little closer until I sense the reassuring touch of my wallet with its assortment of cards on my hip. Such is the ingrained fear of pick pockets in me that I immediately tense up, half expecting to lose something. I casually turn a little, hoping to get a clearer line of sight to him – in my mind my counter espionage skills rival those of Nick Carter – N3, agent extraordinaire at AXE. My manoeuvre unfortunately is one that plays into his hands. Realising he has my attention, he begins to amble in my direction.

Whatever complacency is left in my inner Nick Carter is driven off when he speaks
– Bros, he begins, you be Naija shey?

I ponder the ramifications of answering in the affirmative for a few seconds and then decide to humour him by replying in what I hope is a sufficiently brusque – Yes.

Seemingly heartened by my answer he proceeds to download a spiel about how he’s been up to TheBZ to visit a business associate who has ended up duping him. The cliff notes version is that he is 30 pounds short of the total amount required to get a train ticket to head back to London.

 – I am a family man you know, he adds, it is just sad that my own Nigerian brother will do this to me. He speaks with the affectation of one who feels broken and used.

Maybe I am in a good mood, or it is the spectre of Christmas looming large at the back of my mind, but for once I decide to humour him, especially as I have a few minutes to kill before the train bearing my friend arrives.

– 30 pounds, you say, I ask him again to make sure. He nods, a little too eagerly I think. I motion for him to follow me, explaining that as I do not have cash on me, I will have to buy the ticket with my card.

The disappointment on his face is clear for me to see. Apparently he had been hoping I would complete his fare by cash. I firmly explain that I do not have any cash on me. He insists, if I can’t give it to him by cash, he’ll pass and wait for someone else who can. Somewhere in between, he turns abruptly and walks away from me. I shrug, walk back to my vantage watching spot and resuming waiting for Ally’s train.

In truth, I could use the 30 pounds myself, what I don’t understand is what happened to beggars having no choice?

Waiting for Bus 21…

The evening breeze, cooled by the frigid NorthSea never fails to welcome me to this place.  Nonedescript, marked only by a pole and a small 4×4 plaque, it can seem like Oya or her  Viking consort Njord chose to channel their chilling breath  through this spot. For 40 days now, I have had to endure the icy chill the wind brings. Sometimes it can feel like the wind reaches out an icy claw and grabs the heart, as though it would yank it out and leave me for dead.

We all gather, like bees drawn to precious nectar, different faces, different colors; sometimes grumpy, sometimes affording the luxury of a fleeting smile –  all united by a singular  objective – jumping aboard Bus 21. The most we exchange are curt nods, or on a particularly good day the obligatory comment about the weather.

They tell me this is the coldest winter in 50 years.  That is scant consolation for the waves of shivering that wash over me – whilst my teeth beat out an incohenrent rhythm. Seconds stretch into minutes – which seem like hours – as the gods of this deserted place seek to seize their pound of flesh.

The cold reminds me of one thing. This is not my place…. I am me, journeying through… But standing for a moment…

Waiting.

The bad part of waiting is the uncertainty – the vacillation between extreme positions, the rehashing of the entire sequence of events in the mind seeking clues as to how it went – and the undoubted clarity that hindsight often brings along with all the could-haves and should-haves that tag along.

I am waiting, have been waiting since a couple of days ago, for a response from the chaps I spoke to. I thought we had fruitful discussions, answered all the questions they asked, and chipped in with a few myself to ensure their expectations for the proposed role matched mine. Now, its time for the wait, while they decide if we are a match enough to progress to the next stage. Fingers crossed, done my bit now, all I can do is wait…… and hope……