I have been struck recently by how much time in the monastic day can be spent waiting. We assemble five times each day to pray, twice to eat and once for a period of recreation. At seven of these gatherings there is a ritualised way of waiting. Before some chapel services we assemble in a corridor known as statio, and there we stand, in order of seniority, before processing into the chapel. For other services we sit and wait in our chapel places. Our mealtimes in the refectory begin and end with a formal grace and here we stand and wait for the superior to begin the grace. Our recreation has no formal beginning, but sometimes we might wait for the whole community to be gathered before some announcement etc is made. Each of these times of waiting have a slightly different quality for me.
I have recently re-discovered the Jesus Prayer and this has the potential to transform all of the different forms of monastic waiting. The simple rhythm of the prayer can help to re-connect heart and mind. I have noticed that time can pass more quickly when I try to use the Jesus Prayer and sometimes I find I might have solved a little problem or got new courage for a situation.
What form does waiting take in your life? What can it teach you?
The Jesus Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.