Learning to wait

By Mary Ann Hughes

Grace Notes

I remember being a young mother in the work force, and learning the value of multi-tasking. It became a necessity as I tried to balance my different responsibilities.

You can’t just have one thing on your mind when your children have to be at practices; when dinners need to be prepared; and when the laundry is waiting. It’s the same in the workplace. Things just don’t wait; there is always work to do. There are phones that need answering; there are meetings to attend; and there are deadlines.

That all changes when your children are grown and when you retire.

Life simplifies.

It’s been kind of a gradual process for me; but in the last six months, I’ve noticed a slowdown. I’m starting to take more time when I do things, not because I can’t work quickly, but because I no longer have to.

This slower pace has been surprising and wonderful.

For so many years, I lived my life suspended between a Martha world and a Mary one. I was always trying to find my footing, but rarely succeeding.

As Catholic women, we are encouraged to study the two sisters and learn to balance our lives using them as examples. By the time our children are teenagers, we’ve conquered the Martha world because we had to.

Maybe that’s what the 50s are about: learning to embrace Mary’s example of pure and singular devotion to Jesus.

I’m in my early 70s now, and things are changing again.

Perhaps it’s the pandemic; perhaps it’s my own aging process; but now I’m starting to think about Anna. We know her from the Gospel of Luke, an elderly woman who is remembered for waiting.

She was in the Temple during the presentation of Jesus. She responded to that momentous occasion by giving thanks to God; and, 2,000 years later, we still remember her.

I’m also remembering my own grandmother, who had a very demanding life. By her 70s, she was able to spend part of her mornings sitting alone on her front porch saying her rosary and her prayers. After a life of hard work, it was time for her to become a new creation. It was time for her to wait on the Lord.

Life is interesting. After learning so many skill sets, I find that I no longer need many of them.

I know that I no longer need to multi-task because my world has narrowed and simplified.

Perhaps it’s time to embrace the example of Anna, the woman who waited.