Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Above All, Trust in the Slow Work of...God (?)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Beggars supposedly cannot be choosers.

One of the most important decisions I made when I began creating my strategy for recovery last summer was to allow myself the opportunity to try new things.  When you are in a low spot it seems wise to accept the hand of anyone who will offer to help.  I believe openness to change and renewal is vital not just to the work of recovery but to the simple and mundane aspects of everyday life.

I made many changes in my life since last summer.  And I have tried completely new things.  Boxing at the YMCA is but one example.  I have no clear idea where all the changes I have made will ultimately lead me.  And that lack of clarity can be unsettling.

During my recent Befriender Ministry training at the Basilica of St. Mary I was presented with the following prayer:

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.
We would 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...will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming in 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.

- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

I first heard of de Chardin when I was a member of the Jesuit order in the late 1990s.  I have come across the prayer above before.  While I do trust I am making progress and moving forward in my own life I do not know where I would want to place my trust.  Trusting in 'God' is a bit of a challenge for me because I am not entirely sure what my theological beliefs are.  I believe in some sort of power beyond that of humanity.  Afterall, how did the Universe come into being since humanity apparently did not have a hand in creating it?  Rather than call this force 'God' I prefer to use a looser term such as 'Higher Power' or even 'Creator'.

I admit that the prayer does speak to me.  I feel an impatience to be done with the intermediate stages; I want to be on the other side of my journey of healing.  And honestly I do not want to discover that the process of change may take a very long time.  I would rather be done with it all now.  And yet to follow the counsel of this prayer is to recognize one cannot force change to occur faster than it ultimately can.  Babies born too early are called premature.  Decisions made with insufficient thought and reflection can backfire and ultimately leave us worse off than we would ultimately be had we just patiently waited a bit longer.

The final line of the prayer is also compelling for me.  The low-grade anxiety I once found myself in is essentially gone.  Now I find myself in a different state of being.  I feel an anticipatory anxiety; I am curious about who I am becoming.  Some days I feel such great wonder regarding the process of my unfolding into a new creation.  And other days I just want to scream out 'Can't this be done already!'  And the answer I sense is 'No, this process cannot be done already because there is still more to do.'


I began attending a Lenten class at my Metropolitan Community Church this past Monday evening.  I still find it a bit bizarre I am willing to do this.  Anyhow, I have chosen to work on giving up bitterness as my offering during this season.  I will write more about that in an upcoming post.

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