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Hurry up and wait

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

January 4, 2023

It was January 1977. I was a recent arrival in North Chicago, at the Great Lakes Naval Recruit Training Center. Weeks earlier I had quit college, searching for a new adventure in life. After all, the ads claimed: The Navy, not just a job, but an Adventure! I had no idea what to expect. At that time, there were no sailors in my family who could share a story or two, let alone give me a hint of what was in store for me in boot camp. The country had just elected a new president, Jimmy Carter, who was pretty much unknown to most Americans at the time. He was inaugurated into the nation’s highest office my first day of boot camp. At that time in my life, I was challenged with many unknowns.

In those days, a new Navy recruit was referred to as a “raisin.” I can still remember being called a raisin standing in line, one very crisp January morning around 0500. I guess being dressed in dark Navy-blue uniforms topped off with dark blue knitted watch caps, we looked like raisins to the uninformed passer-by. As I stood in line that morning on the frigid banks of Lake Michigan, the adage, Hurry up and wait, became real for me. It was cold! Wait? Wait for what…the unknown!

It’s funny how our memory kicks into overdrive when certain things in the present trigger thoughts of events past. I was walking to the office early yesterday morning. I looked up to the dark blue sky which was speckled with bright shining stars outshone by the moon. It was bitterly cold, and I thought of my days as a raisin so many years ago. The skies yesterday morning brought me back to that phrase, Hurry up and wait. For what?? The unknown.

As shoppers, we’ve been hurrying up and waiting for Christmas since Halloween! We hurried up for Christmas so that we can take down the Christmas tree as soon as the gifts were opened, and wrappings discarded. In such a hurry, we now find the New Year has arrived with all its unknowns.

People of faith struggle with unknowns. People of faith do not have all the answers. While these days I’m wearing a different uniform, I am sometimes, still in a hurry and impatient because I want to have all the answers now. I don’t want to hurry up and wait. But prayer brings me back to the realization that we do know all we need to know: God is Love! God was born among us to show us how to manage life’s unknowns so that we might enjoy eternity in His loving embrace. It’s that simple! It’s that difficult!

I pray that as we welcome the New Year, we never tire of learning more and more how much we are loved by God. Our mission as a disciple of Jesus is to allow Him to lead us through the unknowns that 2023 promises to bring. Persevere in inviting your family members back to the Eucharist as we are nourished and challenged to meet tomorrow’s unknowns with confidence and courage because, after all, we are Christ-led, Christ-fed and Hope-filled! Blessed New Year!

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