Tuesday, November 2, 2010

On the seashore

Most of you are probably familiar with this book. If you didn't get it for preschool/kindergarten/middle school/high school or college graduation, you have probably read it to your kids, or it was read to you when you were a kid.
This is probably one of Henry's favorite books-the quirky pictures and bright colors along with the fun sounds and silly words seem to do it for him.
At one point as I read this book over and over again I would get frustrated as I read his lines about "a most useless place:"

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.

No! That’s not for you!

"YES!" I would shout in my head, "You're right, I want to DO something! I want to be progressing, I want to be on my way!" I was feeling sick of every conversation I had about life involving the word, 'waiting' for internships, for jobs, other school options and other life evolving events. So I got on it. I started thinking, planing, trying to get going on whats next, at all costs, trying to find some backdoor out of this proverbial waiting place only to find myself more frustrated and more demoralized at every turn.
Sidenote: I realize that Dr. Seuss should not necessarily be my go to for life advice. Yet, when you are in state contrary to perfect placidity, many things can speak to you even if you do not intend it-probably why we are counseled to surround ourselves with the best of books, films, music etc.
Fast forward to this past week.
I was reading in Ether 2. Everyone is familiar with all the brother of Jared went through in Ether 3 preparing first a way to breath and then a way to receive light in the boats on the journey to the promised land. What I became struck with however was what is aptly about in 'the middle' of chapter 2. I finally realized the Jaredites spent 4 years-FOUR YEARS-doing what? camping at the seashore. No explanation of what they were doing there except camping in tents. Then what follows that recorded chunk of waiting time?
"And for the space of three hours did the Lord talk with the brother of Jared, and chastened him because he remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord." (Ether 2:14)
I found it significant that not only did it seem like for four years the divine visits to the brother of Jared had ceased but in that time he was shown a weakness perhaps none of us who have ever read the miraculous accounts of the brother of Jared would have ever guessed at.
It brings to mind a quote attributed to Chekhov, "Any idiot can face a crisis-its the day to day living that wears you out."
In the day to day living, the brother of Jared had ceased to access the same divine assistance he had previously received during a crisis-he had been shown a fault that perhaps the microscope of adversity could not even have magnified quite so well. For whatever reason, in the tedious, day to day seashore living, the brother of Jared either thought the Lord's help was not necessary or should not be asked for in such banal day to day circumstances. Yet it is exactly that lack of daily access to divinity that can bring about a crisis of faith and belief in God and his Son.

So what have I realized about Seuss' useless waiting place? While he describes mostly silly things that people ought not to wait for but act on or in spite of, I believe there can be true growth and merit in learning how to wait well. Sometimes seeking the Lord requires stillness, waiting and allowing a halt in our journey with no idea where it will further lead, sometimes we need a seashore to show us the weaknesses we would not have guessed at during all the action of adversity or enjoyment of prosperity. So I try now to remember,

on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord." (Ps. 27:14)

Again, in my long winded way, what have I realized about Seuss' waiting place? That it really can be a most useful place.


Gdub said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gdub said...

That was an awesome thought! Thanks for sharing. It helps me out in some ways.