Clara’s got talent for waiting

Watching the final of TVNZ New Zealand’s Got Talent I was surprised to see a fifteen year old girl singing a lament for love. Here was the voice of a heartfelt cry.

Poetic words with beautiful music evoked the existential pain of longing for relationship that would transcend the passing distractions from personal identity and worth.
On national television and before a live audience Clara van Wel stirred the gloss of competitive celebrity, revealing unnervingly simple questions about meaning, belonging, acceptance and love.
At the heart of Clara’s song, Where do you find love?, was a sense of search and need to wait. Waiting is very much part of the human condition.
The Christian tradition encourages adherents to search for meaning while waiting on God. This means coming to some terms with the here and now while always actively living within hope of a worthy, fulfilling, future. However, waiting can sorely test faith.
The New Testament letters provide evidence of such a sense of test (1Peter14-15) and that same sense remains alive in the faith of the Church. It is, perhaps, no more profoundly sensed than when waiting with another at their thin margin between life and death. Can any act of waiting carry meaning?
Samuel Beckett challenged the hope of a faith in waiting in the play Waiting for Godot. While two men exhaust the sense of their present reality Godot never appears. Waiting for something that cannot be seen, or may not eventuate, may be a forlorn experience destroying hope, or only softened by amusing temporary distraction.
Waiting without engaging the present will be forlorn. The hope behind waiting needs to be earthed in active experience that contributes to world and neighbours. Clara’s song seems to reach for that experience. It is an experience the Church is charged to live and promote, an experience defined by love, self-giving love.
Clara’s song sounded a defiant call into the existential reality of needing meaningful relationship in a world that, for many individuals, has become as hyper-connected as it is competitive and isolating. At fifteen Clara reveals a wisdom that confronts waiting without surrender to despair of loneliness, loss of hope or transitory distraction. New Zealand’s Got Talent!

Rev. John Fairbrother is currently the Director of Vaughan Park Anglican Retreat Centre in the Auckland Diocese.

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