Sunday, November 29, 2009

Waiting for God

Samuel Beckett wrote a book called Waiting for Godot. It’s one of the many modern ‘classic’s I’ve yet to read. I wonder if I ever will read it. As a general rule I don’t like modern classics because their very modernity seems to be at odds with the true definition of a classic and the former wins out over the latter. I happen to prefer classic classics—classics which have stood the test of time. And yet, since we can see, ‘waiting for God’ in the title of Beckett’s book, I am intrigued by the potential connection.*

I know I am waiting for God. I’ve been waiting for Him for a very long time—not as long as some, but longer than others: fifty-something years if you must know. When I hit fifty I went through an aging crisis, the first and only time in my life getting older ever bothered me. Looking back I see now it was because I’d lost my way. If one has both eyes on God, then being fifteen or fifty is pretty much the same. Both ages can be a moment from His presence or thirty years.

Most of us don’t like waiting. That was the theme of our pastor’s homily last night. And yet he rightly reminded us about all the benefits God can draw from our waiting experiences: the savoring of anticipation, building of character, and growth in patience, to name but a few. So much good can come from waiting on God, doing things according to His Will, in His Time. If we but wait, when the harvest comes in, how wonderful is the feast! Many of us in America just experienced that as we sat down to our groaning tables Thanksgiving Day . . . and got up an hour or so later, groaning ourselves, from having feasted on His Bounty.

That’s fine for us, but what about those who are still waiting? Still hungry?

And of course that’s just the tip of the iceberg, as we all know. There are many, many other things—issues if you will—still unresolved, which seem to be on-hold, waiting: the poor, immigrants, the unborn, the lost, minorities, the lonely, homeless, the elderly, abused children, the dying, victims of crime, our planet, etc. The list goes on. Who or what are they waiting for? Does God hear their cry? Do we?

I don’t have answers, only questions and observations. I work for a church which pours Charity, not to mention hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, into the surrounding community and yet in recent years has had to install security lights, cameras (which have been repeatedly stolen) and locks everywhere for the protection of those who give so generously.

In our parish, we have those who bring food, clothing and emergency transportation to desperate people at all hours of the day and night, and have done so for years now. These veteran helpers are true Sons of St. Francis of Assisi and their stories are fascinating. In spite of many instances of personal danger, flagrant abuse, and hostility, they remain devoted and untiring ministers to those in need.

Our St. Vincent DePaul hotline receives threatening calls when the disgruntled ‘poor’ feel the service provided isn’t sufficient or prompt enough. “I think Channel XVZ needs to hear your church is doing false advertising! You say you’re there to help us but no one called me back tonight!”

Police vehicles camp in our parish parking lot every evening we have a function. I see them with gratitude but also with more than a trace of sadness, that their presence is necessary.

God we are waiting. We are still waiting. Advent is a time of waiting. We are your children, Lord, and we still await Your Coming.

Lord, come to our assistance. Make haste to help us!

*However, if you read the linked NY Times review of the play, you will learn that Beckett doesn't expect God to ever come to save mankind. Poor man!

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