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Today’s Word: Wait (V.)

wait (v.) c. 1200, “to watch with hostile intent, lie in wait for, plot against,” from Anglo-French and Old North French waitier “to watch” (Old French gaitier “defend, watch out, be on one’s guard; lie in wait for;” Modern French guetter), from Frankish *wahton or another Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *waht- (source also of Dutch wacht “a watching,” Old High German wahten, German wachten “to watch, to guard;” Old High German wahhon “to watch, be awake,” Old English wacian “to be awake”), from PIE root *weg- “to be strong, be lively.” General sense of “remain in some place” is from late 14c.; that of “to see to it that something occurs” is late 14c. Meaning “to stand by in attendance on” is late 14c.; specific sense of “serve as an attendant at a table” is from 1560s. Related: Waited; waiting.

It occurred to me recently that I spend a great deal of time waiting. Waiting on God mostly, but also on other humans. Upon reflection, I became aware that I have always done so. The amount of time I spent waiting for later as a youth, I’m sure, is responsible for my impatient nature to this day. But even as I remembered all times I waited, who I was waiting on, why I was being made to wait, and what I was waiting for, I remembered what it was I was doing… while I was waiting. What I mostly remember doing was nothing except just the waiting and becoming angry at the who or sad because of the why. Eventually, those feelings would transform into ones of self-loathing as one who feels deserving of being forgotten or left behind often does.

Those were the feelings that developed as a youth too often left alone. It happens. Most times there is not person to blame. Growns-ups are busy navigating life. It’s a fact. I wasn’t unsupervised. Just by myself. I may have grown to hate waiting, but those were childish feelings of one who had not been properly taught how to wait.

I learned the oldest definition of wait: c. 1200, “to watch with hostile intent, lie in wait for, plot against,”. No person taught it to me, or showed it to me. As I said… I was all by myself. I learned it all on my own. Not all bad habits are taught by another person.

I am so grateful that now in my doddering old age I’ve learned to wait as it meant to the Germans. To watch. To be aware.

Praying is not doing nothing. Waiting is not the same as doing nothing. Being Still is different than doing nothing. Each of these things is doing something. All three at once is doing everything.

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