The 20th century officially ends, capping the secondmillennium on the last day of December. It is not ending with a whimperbut a bang.

The same delusion factories that promise immediate relief forAmerica's physical heartburn also produced post-election nationalspiritual distress for which they have no remedy. Try as it might, thepublic relations/advertising complex, better known as our "spinners,"cannot cure lies and distortions with additional doses of thesedestructive elements.

That is why average Americans so often said, in recent weeks, theywere "sick" of the whole thing, that they couldn't "swallow" or"stomach" any more.

Yet, in this distress, ordinary men and women have also experiencedprofound spiritual realities that are the human stuff of salvation. Hardspiritual truths are inconvenient, inescapable, and necessary all at thesame time.

Good people know this in their hearts. They need encouragement andaffirmation in realizing that their spiritual lives are coextensivewith their everyday lives. In other words, they do not go to church tofind their spirituality. They bring their daily struggles to church forvalidation as the site of their saving contacts with God.

Two experiences found in the jangle of our current dissonance carrywithin them the music of salvation. Waiting and being imperfect aretraditional and essential mysteries in any mature spirituality. They arevery simple; they are found in every day in every life. No talking intongues, cures, visions, or other miracles are required.

Waiting is the mystery of the season of Advent itself, not only toorchestrate the days liturgically in expectation of Christmas but aspart of everything that defines and deepens us humanly.

We have been reminded of this tension in waiting for electionreturns. But expectation is seeded deep in our souls. Waiting remainsinevitable, even in the age of "anything you can do, we can do faster," ineverything from internet connections to divorce.

"Instant" is the operative word in marketing food, drink,entertainment, and that broad area of gratification-in-general.

In real life, we must wait for anything worthwhile, from growing upto growing wise, from finding our true love to finding our true calling.Waiting is our human epidemic and is found everywhere, mirroring, in itsvarious specialized settings, the aching range of our longings andfears.

For we speak of a waiting area in an airport or railroad station asthe scene of long-anticipated reunions, for catching first sight of afamiliar face coming home again. In waiting rooms in hospitals we findthe sorrows of everyone who has ever wept at the suffering of lovedones.

When will we know, we ask, as we wait, as wait we must, for the testresults, the biopsy, MRI examination, or the doctor to come. The measureof our belief and the depth of our love: These are revealed in themystery of waiting.

How hard it is to wait, as sometimes we must, before we can tell theone we love we are sorry for some wound, small or great, that we havecaused. Sometimes it is still too tender to touch, and we must wait untilwe will not make the hurt worse by speaking, even in regret, about it.

Waiting is indeed everywhere, as part of that even larger religiousmystery of being imperfect. We are learning as a nation that our voting,and our voting machines, are just like us. They make mistakes because wemake mistakes. The notion of zero-defect performance in anything human,or anything really spiritual, is an illusion.

The insurance industry, service contracts, the confessional,greeting cards, the reset button, the delete key, and the eraser alldepend on our most abiding and indelible characteristic--beingimperfect.

The Christian is not called to icy perfection but to a kind ofglorious imperfection. Were we able to be perfect, we would never haveto trust anybody, hope for anything, love each other, or pray foranything. The best things about us are drawn out of us only because ofthe imperfect things within us.

These are the mysteries. Perhaps an election filled with waiting andimperfection is worthwhile if it reminds us that these experiences arefilled with wonder and are as common as sunrise and nightfall.
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