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Dune: A Masterpiece in Waiting

Dune: A Masterpiece in Waiting

A box office hit in the midst of a pandemic is no small feat. The most visually eloquent on-screen adaptation thus far of its literary inspiration by Frank Herbert, Dune takes a unique approach to bringing the story to screen. Rather than cramming the entire novel into one movie, or making a full-length TV series, Dune presents the first half of the book in the first film. It is a film that introduces a story and asks the audience to wait for the unfolding.


It was a risky move for the filmmakers. Yet audiences are leaving with the desire to return for the rest of the story. Why?


There is certainly less character development in Dune than there would be in a typical film of its length. Yet the filmmakers use everything – captivating cinematography, intricate costumes, intentional effects, budding plot, and an absolute masterpiece of a soundtrack – to leave audiences with a sense of vigilant waiting on the promise of something masterful. With each character, we are waiting to discover the fullness of who they are and of who they will become.



Zendaya as Chani in "Dune."  © 2021 Warner Bros. All Rights Reserved. 


Waiting to discover the fullness of who someone is or will be to us has been an essential part of human culture and experience since the beginning of time. For Christians, it continues to be a sacred part of our very identity. We are a people in waiting.


Our forebears in faith knew what it was to wait. From the time of the ancients, they awaited a particular kind of belonging and freedom in God. Soon they began to look for it in a Messiah, one who was awaited for many generations.


When the "fullness of time" (Gal. 4:4) came, the most sacred hour of the Incarnation, Mary held the anticipation of all her people within herself as she awaited the arrival of the child Jesus for nine months, then for another thirty years as the full revelation of who and what he was to the world unfolded.



Keisha Castle-Hughes as Mary in "The Nativity Story."  © 2006 New Line Cinema. All Rights Reserved. 



Now we, adopted into this same holy family through the Church, continue this legacy of vigilant expectation as we await the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, when we can finally see him face to face.


This type of waiting, the kind that seeks to observe the unfolding of the fullness of someone dear, awakes in us a vigilance, a loyalty, and a hope we may not have known we possessed. In fact, they are virtues gifted to us from the Lord himself and sustained by his grace. Because really, he is the one who knows what it is to wait.


God awaits us.


He awaited our birth from the day he dreamed us up from the beginning of time. He awaits us in our joys and sorrows, in creation, in Scripture, and in the Eucharist. Nourishing the growth of our love, courage, and interior freedom, he awaits the day we welcome him in fully into every aspect of our lives, and the day that he can welcome us home to heaven.


The Lord has placed within us the ability to wait in vigilance, loyalty, and hope. We have this ability so that we can await him.


The film Dune counts on our ability to await the fullness of the story, keeping fans watchful for its sequel. In promising the potential of something full and good through the rest of the film’s elements, it has audiences willing to wait faithfully for the character development of the story’s key players to unfold.


If we are able to wait with interest and faithfulness for the second installation of Dune, how much more deeply might we be able to await the Lord this Advent?



Timothée Chalamet as Paul in "Dune."  © 2021 Warner Bros. All Rights Reserved. 


Our own stories are still only half-told. Like Dune’s main character Paul, we too have been given pieces of the future of our own collective story as the Church. But unlike Paul, we know the outcome: we know the pieces come together to end in goodness - in the loving embrace of our God. How will the Lord guide us to grow into the fullness of who he has called us to be? How will he inspire us to invite others to this relationship? How will his birth, life, death and resurrection touch and transform ourselves and those around us? And what will it be like to finally see him face to face, in all his fullness?


We are waiting for the fullness of who we are in Christ to unfold. We are waiting to discover even more the fullness of Christ’s own heart as we journey with him. And in that waiting, vigilance, loyalty, and hope are awakened in our hearts to carry us through to the end – to the loving embrace of God.


If you watched Dune and are hanging on for the second film, then be assured: you have the gift of waiting. Await the Lord intentionally this Advent, both in his birth and in his coming again. Allow God in radically to make this Advent a masterpiece of waiting in your life – a far greater masterpiece than even the soundtrack of Dune.



Zendaya as Chani in "Dune."  © 2021 Warner Bros. All Rights Reserved. 


Do you want to await the Lord radically this Advent but are not sure where to start? Here are three powerful practices that can ignite our souls to vigilance, loyalty and hope as we await our Lord in his birth and his coming again in our own lives:


  1. Sacrifice Beads: Sacrifice beads help us keep track of the moments we offer up difficulties, penances, and sacrifices for a special intention. They help to intentionally invite the Lord into difficult situations and to await his presence there. Dealing with an infuriating colleague? Living serious tension at home? Feeling apathetic about the world? Keep a string of sacrifice beads in your pocket this Advent and each time you push yourself to be patient or speak up when it’s difficult, push a bead forward to offer that sacrifice to the Lord, inviting him and awaiting his presence in your difficulties.


  1. Memento Mori Daily Advent Series: Memento Mori is an ancient practice that reflects on our mortality in the light of the resurrection. It frees us to await the Lord with fervor, peace and joy. To step into this radical practice, you can click here to sign up for short daily reflections via email, or pray with a copy of the Memento Mori Advent Companion which can be found here


  1. Advent Candles: Advent candles are born of the ancient tradition of lighting vigil lamps. Don’t just light the candles and call it good. Light each candle intentionally with a prayer for the theme of each candle and bring your own intentions. Be bold - pray it aloud. If you’re at a loss for words, consider praying this line from Psalm 27:14 – “Wait for the Lord… let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.”






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