The first few reflections of my experience during the papal visit to Philly were inspired by moments and thoughts I had while waiting. And waiting. And, oh yeah, more waiting. On Saturday, we reached our spot on the parkway at about 7:45 am. The popemobile didn’t come by our stretch until about 7:30 pm. Twelve hours. A dozen hours of alternating sitting, then standing, of getting kicked up dirt from the poorly maintained landscaping blown on us, and trying real hard to gauge when we could last use the port-a-johns before everyone squished us into the barricade for a three-second glimpse of one man.
Sunday’s wait was shorter, but arguably worse. Arrived at an entrance at noon with curb-to-curb thickness of people and two city blocks deep. We didn’t get through the final security hurdle until 5 pm. But there were no vendors hawking overpriced sandwiches or ginormous cookies. No port-a-johns for blocks, and a pernicious sense of fruitlessness. If we don’t make Communion, what is this for? If we don’t make the final blessing (a blessing from a pope a mile away, has to count for something,even if he was just on the Jumbotron, right?), what is this for?
Well, my only reflection is that for me personally, this waiting was for patience. For recognizing that for all the hurry to get somewhere, the end result is not what I expect, and likely not what I even want (see Wednesday’s coming post about “sight”). For learning that sometimes the wait is what God wants of me, where He will find me and I Him, and not in the moment itself. That Jesus Himself had some waiting to do. Rick Warren said in his keynote address at the World Meeting of Families that “We don’t have any record of Jesus running anywhere.” I laughed, because it’s true. He didn’t have an attitude of “Let’s, go, let’s get to Jerusalem, so I can save the world,” or “I’m going to advance the timeline on this whole resurrection thing; one night is enough.” Nope. He waited for His people to come around, for His time to come, and what God needed for Him to fulfill the word.
God waits, too. He waits for us to have conversions of hearts, to stop running our bodies and/or our minds so we can see He was there all along.