Editor’s Note: Graphic design and communications associate Kathleen Strycula reflects on the active nature of waiting.

Do you know those times when you sit in front of your computer screen or notebook, waiting for artistic inspiration to strike? For those perfect words or the story you’ve always felt was waiting inside you? Or when you feel good about the day and are just waiting for something exciting to happen? Or you wait to hear back about that great job offer?

And then nothing happens?

I seem to have those moments a lot.

Recently, I found myself in Mary’s Garden at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, feeling that way: empty, waiting, confused. It was a still, beautiful evening, and my heart felt anything but still or beautiful.

My cause for anxiety? Nothing. Or rather, the fact that I felt like nothing was happening in my spiritual life. In prayer and daily Mass, I encountered a spiritual dryness within myself that frightened me. I felt that with so many major transitions happening in my life – beginning a year of service, moving into a new community, discerning the next step for my future – equally big things should be happening in my spiritual life.

So I sat in Mary’s Garden, wondering where God was. Where joy and growth were. And as I thought, I prayed and complained (just a little) to God. I was waiting and ready; when would He come?

I paced the little garden, watching the water droplets from the fountain fall onto the words in the stones that circled it: “My spirit finds joy in God my Savior.” I read it and stopped. Accustomed to the translation of Mary “rejoicing,” it seemed very different to say instead that Mary “found joy” in God.

It made me realize that perhaps I was mistaken in my waiting for God and joy and growth. Waiting is not a passive action; we are called, like Mary, to “find joy.”

We don’t have to feel joyful to find joy. Joy doesn’t always come to find us. But it is always around us, often hiding in the smallest things. The kindness of a friend waiting for you to finish work to walk out together. The lyrics from a song that find you right where you are. The way the sunset lights the sky on fire.

Don’t be afraid of the moments when nothing seems to be happening. Instead, use those moments to grow.

Find joy.

Reflection Question: is there something in your life that you are waiting on, when you might be acting and moving forward on it instead?