They want to turn off the lights and lock the doors. We are the ones they are waiting for. We have noticed it over the years and we try to be conscious of it, but it seems to always happen. The lingering, the moments when you are enjoying being in one another’s company even after the service is done. The janitors and the staff want to go home. We want to stay for as long as we can.
It is born out of relationship…this need to linger. It is being with people who share the same heart and mind. It is common purpose, common worship, and common love for each other and for God. It doesn’t just happen at church. It seems to happen whenever we are together. We have so much in common and yet this lingering is so uncommon in our society.
As a culture, we are in a hurry. The next thing is constantly sending its notifications to our phones. We fill our lives full to the brim and sometimes I think we do it just so we don’t have to linger. But there is this deep place in us that longs to slow down, to spend time, to see and hear one another.
I am grateful for people in my world who are also prone to linger. One more story. One more memory. One more song. One more thought. And I love that we are teaching the youth in our world to value lingering.
This past week the youth that I lead decided to exchange their annual Thanksgiving dinner in order to serve others who might not have food for the holiday. We went grocery shopping together and then we split into two groups and went to two separate families to share the bounty. We lingered in the homes of our refugee friends. After we were finished lingering with these beautiful new friends, we went back to our Bible study space to debrief and share what God had shown us. As we wrapped up our time, I “closed” in prayer. And then one of the young people asked if he could pray. And then another one asked to share what God had shown him in those moments. And then…and then…and then.
I finally had to be the one to call it the end, primarily because I didn’t want to worry the parents who were waiting at home. I think we all felt it. That “knowing” that we had just experienced something special that no one else would really understand. That need we have to just “be” for a few minutes, to linger. These moments are precious and unannounced. They just happen. Sometimes they happen at the back of a church. Sometimes they happen in the dark in a parking lot after a concert. Sometimes they happen after everything has already been said and done.
But if I notice, I don’t want to miss these opportunities to just linger. I feel like if it slips past, we are going to miss something sacred.