Our bedtime routine with our 3-year-old daughter is quite simple.
Bath. Nighttime snack of strawberries and grapes. Read books. Brush teeth. Potty. Say our prayers. Tuck her under the covers. Kiss on the forehead. Lights out.
It takes about 30 minutes, give or take the number of books she grabs off the shelf.
Every night, as we walk out of her room, she softly asks, “Mommy? Daddy? Do you think the ice cream truck is gonna come tomorrow?”
The ice cream truck comes down our street on Sunday afternoons. We’re faithful customers, even though it’d be far more cost effective to buy a box of ice cream sandwiches from the grocery store. But Rose loves to run to greet the mask-wearing ice cream truck driver, surrounded by the neighborhood kids rushing out of their homes to dance to the tinny music pouring out of the truck’s old speakers.
Although the ice cream truck comes just once a week, Rose asks us every night if it’s going to come the next day. Most nights, we softly reply, “Maybe … we’ll have to see.” And Rose joyfully says back, “I hope so.”
The innocent wish of a 3-year-old — she hopes that ice cream truck will come back, whether it’s Tuesday or Friday or Sunday. She is convinced it’ll come back, and even though she knows, logically, the truck will probably only stop by once a week, she still asks, and filled with hope, happily accepts our answer of “Maybe …”
The disappointment of it not showing up midweek doesn’t stop her asking. The reality that it probably won’t swing by doesn’t frustrate her. The fact that it only comes on Sunday doesn’t diminish her happiness when it finally arrives.
When it shows up, she is delighted and continues to believe that the overpriced ice cream sandwich will come again.
So she always asks and holds onto the hope that it’ll be here soon.
I wish I had that innocent, joyful, ever present hope in my weary, jaded, often disappointed heart. I wish I could hold onto the good promises announced to me and trust they are true.
As believers in a good God who abundantly provides, we wait in joyful hope. We’re invited to trust in what God has promised. And what is that promise? In what do we hope? Perhaps the hope of new opportunities or the promise of healing and peace. Maybe the hope of being together, of normalcy and routine once again.
Every Sunday we hear the priest say, in the middle of the Our Father, that we wait in joyful hope for something very specific: the coming of our savior, Jesus Christ.
This is our hope: Him. His return. Jesus Christ, present to us. Our hope rests in his promise, that he will be with us until the end of the age and that he will come back so we can be with him forever.
It is only with his return — his very presence in our lives — that we will find the opportunity to worship perfectly, the chance to heal fully, the blessing of perfect peace, united to him.
We don’t necessarily know when that “coming” will be. It probably won’t be tomorrow or even next week. But we still hold onto the hope that it will happen — someday. And we pray with fervent hope that we are ready. That we can greet him and say, “I am happy to see you, Lord,” and that he will look at us and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
We wait in joyful hope and ask, “Will it happen tomorrow?” And we pray diligently that we will welcome the coming of our savior with hearts ready for his return.
And maybe he’ll show up in a battered old ice cream truck blaring a tin jingle, an assortment of sweet treats ready for us all.
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Katie Prejean McGrady is an international Catholic speaker and award-winning author.