Why did I agree to come along on this business trip?
The question I force out of my mind as I sit alone at a Holiday Inn in rural Pennsylvania. Ken has left for the day to work at a nearby facility. Although the hotel has everything needed for me to pass the time, I still eagerly await his return. I think about all the possibilities of entertaining myself: Shall I swim? Shall I read some magazines? Or binge on Netflix? Regardless of which option I choose, I vow to live in the moment, accepting whatever is offered.
I make my way to the lobby which has a nostalgic vibe, retro in design and worn from the many travelers who have already passed through. The majority of people speaking add “y’all and mam’s” to their sentences. After a few minutes I am both charmed and annoyed listening to the southern drawl. With its faded décor and southern hospitality, this hotel in a quiet Pennsylvania town is surprisingly buzzing with activity. On today’s agenda I see countless signs posted announcing, The Annual Meeting of Grand Knights.
Situated in the lobby I witness a large crowd of men dressed in black tuxedos move around the halls. They proudly parade about wearing ornately decorated robes signifying levels of authority within the assembly. As if on cue a booming voice yells, “Meeting of the Knights is called to order” which begins a procession into the banquet hall. I find the fraternal bond endearing and admire their commitment to what at first glance appears ridiculous.
As the large doors of the banquet hall close, I remain in the lobby with a few wives. They begin their wait, respectful of their position outside the closed wooden doors. Chatter makes way to conversations about knitting, grandchildren and recipes. Even among the chatter, a couple women just sit there quietly listening.
As hard as I try, my mind continues to wonder about the happenings behind the closed doors. Am I the only one upset that these wives have been left here to wait? I begin to scan their faces, looking for a shred of discontent. I lower my eyes to stop from staring, suppressing my anger. In prayer I ask, “Lord, forgive me for judging the simplicity of these women. Empty me of self so that I may gain a new perspective.”
Upon lifting my gaze – the unmistakable kindness and peace of these ladies has replaced my narrow opinions. And just like that I am in awe of the grace these women possess and the quality found in their waiting. For it is not about being left behind those mighty wooden doors. It has nothing to do with feeling less important and unworthy. What I am witnessing is the simple act of hearts united in friendship – fully present to one another in and through the waiting.
I examine my own capacity to wait and see nothing but impatience. I take note of how difficult it is for me to pause. To not move forward in thought and deed. I wait with little grace for time to pass, prayers to be answered and plans to be fulfilled.
I started my day, vowing to live in the moment. To embrace whatever comes my way. But I really have no idea how to achieve that state of being. How to peacefully remain conscious of what is before me without anticipating what is coming next.