The play “Waiting for Godot” is an absurdist exercise in futility – Didi and Gogo wait and wait, but Godot never comes. It is even more poignant because we, the audience, know that Godot isn’t coming, not in this lifetime or the next.
I’ve been thinking about waiting lately, having spent eight days sitting in a hospital room with my mother, waiting for the doctors’ daily visit, waiting for an answer, waiting for a clear diagnosis, waiting for a plan of action – even if that might be inaction.
It was eerily similar to the week I spent waiting with my mother six months ago, but that time we were waiting beside my father’s bed in a hospice house, and we knew what we were waiting for. We didn’t like it and we didn’t want it, but we knew that eventually he would die and our waiting would be over.
The difference between knowing the outcome and not knowing is enormous. We feel that way all the time – will my daughter pass her driving test, do well on the SATs, get into a good college? Will I get a raise or get laid off? Will the Redskins ever win the Superbowl again?
There’s been a lot in the news lately about Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager who was shot to death in late February while walking home from the convenience store. The shooter was a community watch volunteer who claimed self-defense.
The boy’s family is waiting for the shooter to be arrested for killing their son. It’s been weeks. The brief wait for their son to come home from the store has turned into a lifelong wait for a son who will never return. Their wait for justice? I pray it won’t be as long.
And yet…. At the other end of the weird spectrum of life, I recently watched a sweet video of a couple who – 65 years after eloping and at the age of 100 – finally had a real wedding. I don’t know why they waited. But there’s an enormous difference between choosing to wait for the right moment (65 years??) and being forced to wait with no end in sight.
This weekend we’ll celebrate Passover, and retell the story of the exodus from Egypt after 400 years of slavery. No instant gratification there — it took 40 more years of wandering around before reaching the promised land. And even then things weren’t so great.
I guess the bottom line is that waiting isn’t the problem. It’s our attitude that matters. If we put everything on hold while we wait…. well, there’s no promise that the waiting will end any time soon. Although I really hope that Trayvon’s parents don’t have to wait much longer.