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The waiting game that is human life

silhouette airport

Fernando Jose V. Soares | Shutterstock

Fr. Gregory Pine, O.P. - published on 08/25/23

Isn’t it true that the other is also stuck in the same series of delays, looking for someone with whom to share his sorrow? 

Last month, I made what I thought would be a quick visit to Newark Liberty. I was scheduled to fly to the Twin Cities, and I arrived at the airport in time to clear security and get to the gate with a few minutes to spare. As I sat in the waiting area, I tolled the beads of my rosary and listened for them to announce boarding. And then came the first announcement of a delay. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be the last.

In the end, I think we had four hours of delays, all served up in small increments. If you’ve ever been in a similar situation, you know how it goes. In the beginning, passengers aren’t very communicative. With the first delay or two, that doesn’t change much. Passengers work out their disappointment in relative silence, turning back quickly to their work or entertainment. With the third and fourth delays, though, the mood changes. Reactions become more pronounced and folks feel free to share their frustrations with each other.

In our case, the sharing had a leavening effect. We shifted subtlely from a disposition of solitude felt many times over to a kind of communion in misery. Rather than magnify our difficulty, the sharing managed to soften it, at least a little bit.

The waiting game that is human life is tough, whether at the airport or otherwise. However you approach it, life has a way of grinding you down. If we’re honest, many of us find large stretches of our lives to be boring or tiring or frustrating. While we may undergo some healing and growth in this life, even some progress towards our destination, the process can be painstaking (and even harrowing) at times.

Yet, even as we are ground down, there remains an invitation to share the experience. We might recoil from doing so, not wanting to burden someone with our sadness or appear pitiable in their eyes. But, isn’t it true that the other is also stuck in the same series of delays, looking for someone with whom to share his sorrow? 

As we wait on our name to be called, it’ll take everything we have to keep our spirits. There are bound to be delays, perhaps many more before our arrival. Ultimately, we’re not meant to go it alone, and sometimes the difference between impossible and possible is as simple as opening up. Truth be told, there is joy to be had here, even a preview of our destination. For, in sharing our misery, we may come to find that we are, in fact, sharing our joy.


This is part of the series called “The Human Being Fully Alive” found here.

The Human Being Fully Alive
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