Trusting slowness

“There is one fault I must find with the twentieth century,

And I’ll put it in a couple of words: Too adventury.

What I’d like would be some nice dull monotony

If anyone’s gotony.”

I recently stumbled upon these words by Ogden Nash. (My high school music teacher, John Neufeld, first introduced me to Nash with the couplet: “”The Bronx? No thonx!”) Nash’s poem about monotony reminds me that my life too often feels as if it’s moving so quickly that I lack the capacity for creativity and joy—and prayer.

For that reason, during my walks home last week, I was comforted and inspired by this poem by the Jesuit (and priest, philosopher, palaeontologist, and geologist) Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. More specifically, I was reminded that God’s work of transformation often feels like disorientation (sometimes for a long time) before it feels like re-orientation. I therefore found myself invited to trust God with the incomplete and confusing details that I experience in myself, and in the church.

Patient Trust

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.