It’s a strange season of life - a time of sustained waiting for the arrival of a perfect stranger. And yet, paradoxically, the one who is coming is not entirely a stranger, but someone who we already know, a person who already contains a part of us and we of them.
Andrea and I are waiting for our first child to be born… it could happen any day now! We have an empty crib, we’re driving around the city with an empty carseat and a slightly misleading “Baby On Board” sign, diapers are standing by, ready to be used – all that needs to happen now is for this “stranger” to come and interrupt our lives forever.
I would say we don’t know what to do with ourselves in the meantime as we wait for this arrival, but that’s not entirely true. I can only speak for myself and say that alongside psychologically preparing for parenthood, what I am doing is trying to put together bibliographies and suggested topics for my comprehensive exams, help the Mediation blog at The Other Journal enter a new phase of life, develop some new writing projects as well as (attempt to) help out around the house. (Now that the baby’s room is complete, it may finally be time for me to fix our broken kitchen cabinet door, a task I have long been procrastinating.)
But there is something strange about this time of waiting. It’s not unlike waiting for Godot, or (even better!) for Guffman. The empty seat; the place held in reserve, sitting there perpetually unoccupied as those who expect it to be filled grow impatient. The waiting… and waiting… it seems endless. Isn’t it Derrida who speaks of the way the “messianic horizon” is always indeterminate, always to be waited for, never arriving? Not too get too philosophical-theological, but perhaps the human experience is that of the constant delay of the parousia – all we can do is wait, and wait, and wait some more.
We’re “expecting.” What a strange word. Expecting something to happen, anticipating, longing, waiting for an Event. And, in our case, it will come. The baby will arrive, in its own time. All our preparing, all the busyness, all the seemingly endless waiting will be interrupted, and we’ll make a space for this tiny stranger in our lives.