Twice during this past week, I felt the feebleness of waiting in queue.
I was gonna have some time on my hands: This much I knew, especially at the state license bureau…because the likely holding time is posted there on a flat-screen monitor for all to see.
“Estimated wait: 32 min.” it said next my initials upon entering the bottom of the queue. It felt a bit like a purgatorial sentence, particularly when I realized there were actually THREE waiting lists, somehow connected, all being served in an indecipherable order by an under-eager staff.
Things were a bit better at the Red Cross blood drive, although it took some sorting out amongst the donors when the sign-in procedure proved less than accurate in supporting the event’s “first-come, first-served” line-management model.
“Time in queue” does weird things to my brain, I noticed on both occasions this week. Within a few seconds, a low-grade anxiety begins to build inside. Before long, it flowers into full-bore fretfulness – as I unwittingly grant my limbic cortex (the “lizard brain”) free rein over my mood in that moment.
The heart of the matter, I suppose, is a shadow-self that deeply desires control. I want to be “in charge”…and nothing crushes this illusion so thoroughly or so swiftly as an experience of fecklessness in the egalitarian clutches of a bureaucratic queue.
I certainly don’t like the feeling of powerlessness. But I like even less the anxiety and fretfulness that always seem to take hold when I allow my limbic cortex to shift into high gear.
Even as I recognize this spiritual defect in me, I am moved to wonder: What part of the brain did Simon and Andrew have engaged…in the moment when they encountered Jesus on the seashore?
As he passed by the Sea of Galilee,
he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea;
they were fishermen.
Jesus said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
To hear their names called: It must have sounded nothing like what we experience when we finally reach the head of the queue.
Surely, then, discipleship is not about seizing or maintaining control: Simon and Andrew surrendered everything when Christ beckoned.
And it makes me wonder: Am I at all prepared to heed…or even hear…such a call?
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.