Even those of us in advanced age remember the excitement and impatience. Four words – “Are we there yet” – captured our anticipation, excitement, and impatience. “There” was shorthand for so many events… parties, summer vacations, new experiences and …

Can you remember the occasions and the feelings when you said those words?

The image came to me as I was thinking of the atmosphere in the “upper room.” In the time between Jesus’ Ascension and the outpouring of his Spirit. The followers of Christ cowered anxiously, waiting for something to happen.

Let’s explore together.

What’s next?

Jesus said, “In a little while, you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.Jn 16:16   They asked  “What does this mean? “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joyj

But they had not expected his death… and resurrection. Then they were surprised by his unexpected appearances. Now he had ascended into heaven. Their heads were spinning!

He told them to stay in Jerusalem! For how long?  For what? They feared for their lives. When and how was he coming?

“Are we there yet” became “what’s next?”

Waiting 40 years!

It was not the first time God’s People waited… and wondered, hoped, and grumbled.

Once, they wandered 40 years! Imagine their excitement as they began their journey to their long-hoped-for freedom! Now they were lost in the desert!

They had their own idiom for “are we there yet?” ”How long?” they cried!

At times, they complained, expressed doubt, and longed to return to the old ways of Egypt, feeling uncertain about God’s provision (Exodus 16:2-3, Numbers 14:2-4).

True, there were also moments of faith, praise, and hope, particularly when they witnessed God’s miraculous interventions and provision in their journey (Exodus 15:1-18, Numbers 9:15-23).

Both the Israelites and the disciples faced tests of faith and trust during their respective waiting periods.

The Israelites were called to trust in God’s provision and guidance despite the challenges of the desert.

The disciples had to trust in Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit and the fulfillment of God’s plan, even though they did not have immediate clarity on what that would look like.

Application to our experience of the synodal process

The 40 years in the desert and the waiting period between the Ascension and the descent of the Holy Spirit offer valuable lessons that can be applied to Pope Francis’ three-year synodal process.

The synodal process calls for trust in God’s timing and guidance. It is essential to seek God’s wisdom and rely on His leading throughout the process, knowing that His timing is perfect and His guidance is trustworthy.

It is a time of discernment, listening, and seeking consensus.  By remaining patient and persevering, the Church can grow in unity and understanding.

The synodal process offers an opportunity for transformation and renewal within the Church.

It is a time to reflect on the Church’s mission, evaluate its practices, and discern how to serve as messengers in a changing world. The process calls for openness to the Holy Spirit’s leading and a willingness to embrace necessary changes.

We are challenged to listen to all voices, especially those on the peripheries. It encourages active engagement, dialogue, and attentiveness to the signs of the times. By listening deeply, the Church can better discern the will of God and respond authentically to the needs of the people God sent us to.

Can we recognize and accept our impatience in this journey?

Click below for an early audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk