God’s Waiting Room

April 12, 2007 at 7:35 pm Leave a comment

 We have all heard of God’s Waiting Room. Most often this refers to Florida but it took on a new meaning for me this week.

I took my wife for some cardiac tests and I waited for her in a tiny waiting room with maybe fifteen seats. The clinic was in a large town, more of a city actually, in the GTA north of Toronto. Common for this area, the people in the room represented diverse cultures.

Now, I’m not nosy (ahem) but the room was so small that I couldn’t help overhearing their conversations. What was interesting was that everyone who entered and checked in with the receptionist spoke good English. What was interesting was the way they interacted with their companions while they were waiting. The couple beside me spoke Japanese. The old couple across the way spoke some Slavic language, another couple spoke Italian. I enjoyed trying to figure out what their conversations were about and English words would pop up from time to time. With the room being the size it was, it was necessary to interact and I was impressed how the people easily shifted from their language to English and back. An Anglo-Saxon lady was knitting and it was heart warming when the Italian lady asked her what she was knitting and they conversed for a while. I felt like I was the observer of a play. I called it “God’s Waiting Room.”

The theme of this play was how we are all one people and while we all have our differences, we are all the same and can get along. It reminded me of my younger days growing up at (what was then) the north edge of Toronto. In later years I came to consider those years as another play authored by the Spirit.

Our early 1950’s neighborhood was at first a mixture of Anglo-Saxon and Jewish. Our the parent groups were formally friendly to each but didn’t mix. Us WASP kids found the Jewish kids we played with were just like us except with another religion. As the Jewish people left, Italians moved in. Our parents were horrified because they spoke a funny language that we couldn’t understand. They would say, “There goes the neighbourhood.” Myths that they were talking about us and that they always paid cash for their houses were the fruit of the neighborhood grapevine. As we played with the Italian kids, we found they were just like us, except for another language. As the Italians moved farther north, Greeks moved in. Again it was said, “There goes the neighbourhood.” More myths based on ignorance and unfamiliarity would come to fruition. I was now older but I’m sure the kids that played together found the new neighbours just like them except for another language. I moved away in few years later and my parents would tell me about an influx of Black folks or East Indian folks or some other. I could hear the same old words, “There goes the neighbourhood.” This repetitive cycle made me think that this all must mean something. I started thinking that humanity is really all the same. Maybe we have different languages and cultures, but we are all concerned with enjoying life and enjoying our families.

In concert with the above, I have this observation: When I was young, people of my parent’s generation were horrified by black and white couples. When I was older, mixed race couples were noteworthy but short of shocking. Now mixed race couples are commonplace and unremarkable. It seems the younger generation is able to overcome the Us/Them attitude of the older generation because no matter what race or culture another youngster is, together they are an Us. Perhaps this is why Jesus loved the children. It sure seems the upcoming generations overcome our prejudices. I think God was authoring a longer moral play in my old neighborhood. Hmmmmm… is that also the theme of the play called “Life?” I eventually learned that despite our differences, we are all the same people inside. I found the Jewish, Italian and Greek families to be hospitable and generous. They all loved to have family around and have a god time. I consciously try to approach new people that I meet with this in mind and have yet to be disappointed.

As the global village becomes more of a reality, the lesson that we are all basically the same, that we are all one is an important one to learn. This lesson will come naturally to the upcoming generations but it is worth us older folks working on it.

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Entry filed under: Wrestling With God.

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