I was summoned. In church life you’re called, but to civic duty you‘re summoned. Jury duty. I had never been ‘summoned’ before. But, I was ready to represent myself as a responsible citizen, ready to participate in the justice system by casting a vote on a jury. Okay, so my expectations may have been heightened by John Grisham novels, but I was excited to participate in the grand saga of the justice system.
Arriving at the Bexar County Courthouse at 8 A.M., I turned the corner to walk into the central jury room and was confronted with a large mass of humanity. Probably more people than were at the last San Antonio Talons game (if you don’t know who the Talons are that only proves my point). There must have been 500 people crammed in awaiting their day’s destiny.
You could see people rehearsing their excuses. Why they are not fit or able to serve as a juror. Why the world is unable to continue on with them caught here in judicial purgatory.
It’s more about the wait than anything else. Time seems to stand still as if the clock somehow blurred into eternity. Frederick Buechner wrote, “If you spin a pinwheel fast enough, then all its colors blend into a single color–white–which is the essence of all the colors of the spectrum combined. If you spin time fast enough, then time-past, time-present, and time-to-come all blend into a single timelessness or eternity, which is the essence of all times combined.”
There are moments in life where we stand outside of time and see the world through God’s eternal eyes. These tend to be the big moments in our lives- the birth of a child, the death of someone close to us, marriage, graduation, baptism.
Jury Duty is not one of these times. It’s more like being crushed by that pinwheel of time. Yet, under the boot of that eternity there are things to see and learn. After all, that’s where many of us live our lives- in a liminal space awaiting an outcome. It’s the place from which the prophets of the Old Testament call to us. Prophets like Habakkuk, Isaiah, and Amos were waiting on a word from the Lord. They were waiting for God to act.
How much of our lives are spent waiting on God? 2 of the 5 major liturgical season focus on waiting and preparation (Advent and Lent). Waiting is a spiritual discipline. We wish it weren’t. But, it is. You might even say it’s a posture of prayer. ‘I waited patiently for the LORD, he inclined and heard my cry’ says Psalm 40.
This doesn’t mean waiting isn’t active. Sure, wait patiently. But, wait with expectations. Nudge God through prayer. Nudge yourself to step up to hope. Nudge God again and, like the pushy woman at the juror room window asking for a lunch break. Like the prophets of old. Nudge God and you may begin to feel the divine nudge assuring you your hopes are not unfounded. There is an end in sight because the judge has called you by name. Thanks for your service. Your going home.
The waiting is the difficult part; whether it’s on jury duty or otherwise. Time seems to stand still when you are “waiting”. Great article you have written. Thanks for sharing. Jeannette McDonald