Are we there yet?

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Father David BonnarWhen I was a child, my family had a summer cottage two hours north of Pittsburgh nestled in the heart of an area with a storied amusement park complete with rides, games and even a fairyland forest. In addition, the park featured signature food and drink items like thick French fries soaked in salt and vinegar and rich, creamy root beer. The park became the realization of many childhood dreams, so much so, that the park became known as “Pennsylvania’s Perfect Playground.”

But this park was not just for kids. Situated next to Conneaut Lake, the largest natural lake in Pennsylvania, which allowed for swimming, fishing and boating, the park became just as appealing to adults. There was even a boardwalk that provided a bird’s-eye view of the lake.

I have many fond memories of my parents packing the five of us children inside the station wagon to make the trek to the cottage. No matter how many times we made the trip, there was always one question my parents would hear over and over from us children — namely, “Are we there yet?”

The question pointed to the anticipation bubbling inside our young hearts. We could not wait to get there and have fun. It was a great escape, providing a whole other world.

There was another sense to this question though. It often revealed fatigue. Some of us became restless in our seats from the lack of activity. Being a passenger, a young one at that, is not easy. Even after being creative and playing all kinds of games like counting license plates from different states or singing songs, the journey can become frustrating and exhausting.

Since March 2020, we as a nation have been on a journey in which we all find ourselves, for the most part, as passengers in a car. The seat belts, however, have become masks and we cannot be as close to one another as we wish to be. Suffice to say, we are traveling what seems to be an endless road in which fatigue has become real.

Are we there yet? Are we any closer to our destination? When can we take off our masks and enjoy life like we used to?

Recently, I had a conversation with a faithful parishioner who is also a wife and mother. She shared how hard it is to explain the pandemic and pass on the Faith to her young children. She also acknowledged how difficult it is to attend Sunday Mass in the parking lot seated in a car with her children. It was almost as if she was saying to me, “Are we there yet?”

I did my best to listen to her frustration and acknowledge the fatigue. At the same time, I reminded her that the journey we are on is only temporary. One day, hopefully sooner rather than later, we will reach our destination. At that point we will all feel like kids in an amusement park. But, in all honesty, we are not there yet. So, whether we are adults or children, I suppose we can expect more frustration and fatigue as well as that perennial question, “Are we there yet.”

The good news is that Jesus accompanies us on this journey. We are never alone. Happy travels! I can’t wait until we get to our destination.

FATHER DAVID J. BONNAR, editor of The Priest, is a pastor of 16 years in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, where he has served in numerous roles. Follow and like The Priest magazine on Facebook.

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