Waiting in the Waiting Room

A loved one’s heart attack is like a closed door;

he is on that side and we are on this side.

The door opens with the sudden collapse.

Ambulance attendants act as ushers.

Now we are in the waiting room waiting

and he is on the other side of the door

in ICU having a heart attack.


The waiting room is suspended in time

every minute stretching out and back

“we were just eating dinner…”

“he was just telling us about work…”

every minute stretching out and forward

“when will we hear something?”

“what’s happening now?”

every person jumping when someone walks by

“It’s just the janitor.”

“It’s just the people from the lab.”

every quiet moment a prayer

“Let him be all right.”

“Let him get better.”


The nurse enters with hopeful words,

“You can see him now.”

One by one we go through the big steel door,

shocked by the morass of tubes and wires

mentally peeling off the breathing tube, the IVs

to uncover the one we love.

A quick glimpse and back to the waiting room.


Time passes and the doctor enters.

He has a sober look on his face.

Cushioning words–     “I’m sorry to tell you this…”

another closed door–    “he’s had another heart attack.”

that will not open– “and we lost him.”

ever–    “I’m sorry.”


Waiting in the waiting room

as we gasp for breath

as we clasp each other for dear life

staggering with loss, wild with grief.

Tears flow.  Hands hold heads

as we catch our careening minds

and anchor them to the new reality

of a closed and locked door.

He is on that side and we are on this side.


God of closed doors,

God of what is on this side

and what is on the other side,

be with us as we wait

for our turn through the door
in a world that has become a waiting room. 

New Book Coming Soon!

Carol Penner has written a devotional book for Lent that explores the challenges of repentance and forgiveness. Forty reflections and prayers to deepen your walk with God as you prepare for Easter.  

You can order it here!

About Carol Penner

I am a Mennonite pastor currently teaching theology at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario. I’ve served congregations in Ontario and most recently, Alberta.

I love to write and to lead worship! If you are finding my writing helpful, I would love to hear from you! Feel free to use or adapt the material here, it is all written by me. If printing material, please credit “Copyright Carol Penner www.leadinginworship.com” (and say whether you modified it). If publishing, please contact me for permission. Contact me at carol@leadinginworship.com

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