We all know how difficult waiting can be. Today the whole Church waits as the cardinal-electors begin the conclave which will see the election of a new pope. Others are waiting at the bedside of a dying family member, the minutes passing with infinite slowness. Others again are waiting for news of a friend or the result of a job application, or just standing in line waiting for a travel ticket or something else that takes ages to come through. We remember what it was  like when we were young, and birthdays seemed as though they would never arrive.

As we wait, we are buoyed up by the thought that at the end there will be a kind of completion, a perfection even, which is quite independent of any sadness or deflation we may experience. At least we will know; at least we will have attained an end, even if it is not the one for which we hoped. There is a curious dynamic at work here. As human beings, we long for certainty, yet we know that most of life is lived in a state of not knowing, of imperfection. The hardest thing in the world is to recognize that it is in the uncertainty and the imperfection that grace operates and transforms us all. Little by little we are fashioned into what we are meant to be: immortal diamond. Waiting is part of the polishing we have to undergo.