Keep calm and pray on


It was mid-afternoon on Friday and I had been sitting in the waiting room of the government agency since 8 in the morning. There were around 150 of us waiting for interview for various services; and there was a constant stream  of people coming in as the hours went by and few leaving. A staff member tried to calm down jittery clients reminding us that we were simply far more than their number could handle expeditiously.

We were given numbers, categorized by a preceding letter – A, B, C, M, R, S, D, Z – which must have meant something to the staff but not to us – and followed by digits. Mine was A028. There were also computer monitors on the walls which displayed numbers as they were called for interview and also pending to be called. I kept checking the monitor and listening for calls and I sensed that A’s had not being called for a while.

I was becoming impatient and thinking of quitting and return on Monday morning. Actually I was there the day before too and it was about the time I had quit when my number was far down on the pending list. Just before I rose to leave, a door opened, a staff personnel appeared. There was dead silence in the waiting room as eyes turned to her eager to hear who she would call.

“Number A-021!” she called. There was silence for about five seconds, then someone shouted, “Gone!”

“Twenty-two?” Again, silence, then the whole waiting room responded, “Gone!” She went on, twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five, twenty-six, twenty-seven…and the response was the same. Then, “twenty-eight!”. I was worried I might not respond quickly enough before the crowd would roar, “gone”, so I raised my paperwork above my head and stood up instantly. The crowd roared, “Bingo!”.

My patience paid off. I was happy and so were my fellow clients. Actually I sometimes boast that patience is one of my blessings. But it is not easy. I have to continue learning each day. I was tempted to blame myself for not being patient the previous day. Yet, as I mentioned in the last post, I should not blame myself or anyone, nor regret because I acted to the best of the information and knowledge available at that time. Acceptance is the way to happiness.

As I sat down across the officer, there was a coffee mug that served as a pencil holder. It sat right in front of me. It was inscribed, “Be calm and pray on”.

“Why wasn’t this mug in the waiting room for all of us to see?” I asked myself. But then, there is the lesson right there. It is written in our conscience, we only need to access it whenever we are losing patience, and in whatever situation we are in: Be calm and pray.

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