Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Trust in the Slow Work of God

I was looking at the quote below about the desert, which begins with the words, "In the desert the most urgent thing is -- to wait." I suppose that's one of the (no doubt many) reasons why forty days are ascribed to Jesus' sojourn there. You can't just finish your task, brush your hands off on your jeans, and move on. At any rate, it occurred to me to post one of my favorite prayers in response. On my other blog, I've called it the Grand Canyon prayer. I used it a lot when I was making seminary-related decisons, and one day I completely cracked up as I recalled that its author was a geologist. His idea of "the slow work of God" was a good deal more expansive than mine!

Today, of course, the years I spent on ministry discernment seem but the tiniest drop of time in a bucket compared to the time and intensity demanded by this particular desert. The Colorado River's eons of imperceptible incursion into rock seems an apt parallel.


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.
Yet it is the law of all progress that is made
by passing through some stages of instability
and that 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.
Do not 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 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.

Above all, trust in the slow work of God,
our loving vine-dresser.

~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.


Karen and Joe said...

How can it be that tragedy and devastation and chaos can be so fast- actually instantaneous? And healing and rebuilding so painstakingly s-l-o-w? I think we are only going to understand when we are on the other side looking back. For now, as you say, "Trust" is the operative word. Trust, trust, trust, I tell myself. It is a place of rest.
May you find rest today.

Magdalene6127 said...

I need this prayer, and i suspect my congregation needs it as well. Thank you (((GG))). In the midst of your excruciating journey you minister to us all.

Gannet Girl said...

I have to say that for me the word trust is mostly a matter of wishful thinking. Or perhaps challenge. Not a place of rest at all. Hence I think of this as a prayer rather than an affirmation.

Purple said...

One of my favorites. I had it posted on my wall all during seminary.

Widening Circles said...

Thank you for this prayer. Less than an hour ago I was wallowing in frustration over the slowness of the process that I hope will lead me to seminary (as an MDiv student, rather than an MA student, which I am now). This will help.

Thanks also for all you have shared here. I thought of you on Sunday when I found myself at coffee hour talking with a woman who lost a middle-aged son to suicide several months ago. She's new to our congregation, and I hadn't known. I listened, told her it was absolutely OK to talk about it if she wanted to and OK to cry in church about it (when she expressed doubts about those things), and I tried really hard not to say anything idiotic. I don't know if I totally succeeded, but I was more thoughtful about this than I might have been without your help.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I love that poem? prayer?