And so it was that she, having waited long and endured patiently realized and obtained what God had promised.
I so hope that heaven is not like Disneyland. Don’t get me wrong, I like my Disney, but the crowds! It is overwhelming. I know that if I end up in Purgatory, my punishment will be waiting in an interminable line for the Matterhorn bobsleds or Toy Story Mania. After spending a week this summer waiting for rides at Disneyland, California Adventure, Legoland and Legoland Water Park, I have learned (1) the value of the FastPass and (2) sometimes the waiting is a necessary test of desire; a purifying process.
The line itself is a distraction and sometimes it is meant to be that way. Theme parks spend millions improving the wait process and books have been written on how to entertain yourself and your family while waiting in line. As the line inched by for the Tower of Terror, and I tired of reading my neighbors’ tattoos, I thought that maybe we get irritated with God sometimes because we don’t like waiting for Him. We want to learn and live God’s plan for us but we also become bored counting the Star Wars pins on the backpack ahead of us.
We can always learn lessons from out wait. For example, if we are focused on others, then we are not necessarily ready to be focused on God. We might even forget that God is waiting for us. Sometimes, God may ram a stroller into the back of our heels to get our attention, but other times, the line stops moving and we don’t know why. We can’t always see God’s purpose or know that two out of the three Tower of Terror elevators are not working. You could look at the wait as a gift of time and make the most of that time with the following helpful suggestions:
10 Things Catholics Can Do While Waiting in Line
(Remember, the last shall come first)
- Make an examination of conscience. You must include sinful thoughts from waiting in line, too.
- Offer up any discomfort you experience as penance for those sins.
- Reflect on the fact that Jesus loves every person waiting in line with you as much as He loves you. How do you feel about that?
- Say the Rosary.
- Reflect on the fact that all of the people around you will be in eternity with you. How do you feel about that?
- Recite (or chant) a litany of saints.
- Say a Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
- Sing the Fruits of the Spirit song!
- Reflect on how much good you could have done for the poor with the price of your park ticket. How do you feel about that?
- Try to get everyone in line to hold hands and say the “Our Father” or do the handshake of peace.
If you try several of these, you might scare those around you so much that they will leave the line or (bonus!) ask you to go ahead – way ahead – of them.
But really, how long are we willing to wait for God to answer a prayer, reveal His plan for us or make His presence known? Would we wait in a 2-hour line, even to get into heaven? I’ll admit it, I don’t relish putting in the work of following Jesus sometimes. I look for shortcuts, skipping prayer, letting my attention wander during Mass or forgetting just to turn to God for help throughout the course of my day. I sometimes spend more time trying to crack the code of easy God access than putting in the time to read His word, engaging fully in prayer and getting to know Him.
When we were done with the parks, you will be happy to hear I dragged the family off to get a little God time at Mission San Diego. As you know, it is one of the sites founded by Junipero Serra, our nemesis from our favorite college class, History of American Catholicism. Before theme parks, the twenty-one Franciscan missions in California were arguably the state’s major attractions. Serra founded the first nine of the missions. Although his legacy is controversial today, Serra’s goal was to save Native Americans from Spanish soldiers and convert them to Christianity. Mission San Diego was not the picture perfect Main Street of Disney but Serra gathered people into it, living a simple life and opting for perfection in heaven.
Ironically, I had to wait to see the main church because of a funeral. Standing in the the sunshine and bougainvillea outside the open doors, I listened to memories being shared about the deceased, a woman named Dorothy. Dorothy had a late in life conversion to Catholicism and suffered the after effects of a stroke for 8 years before she passed away. Although it might have looked like Dorothy was waiting for God in her final eight years of suffering, in fact, it was God who had waited for Dorothy to come to Him, as he waits for us all. He shows us infinite patience. Maybe we owe him the same. We should find a way to make the most of our waiting time.
After all, I am pretty sure there is no FastPass for heaven.