The Slow Work of God

Aaron Austin | November 9, 2020

Sometimes I find great quotes for the beginning of our worship services, but they are just a bit too long to view (or digest) in a slide show.  Today, I found a quote from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (one of Dr. Glenn Hinson's favorite persons to quote), and it seemed to fit this strange coalescence of liminalities in which we find ourselves.

The strange white hairs that are now growing out of my ears at an alarming rate should remind me that things are always changing, but I've gotten good at ignoring these little reminders. Now, however, in the midst of a global pandemic, the shifting sands of spacetime are nearly impossible to ignore.  Perhaps if I were more present or attentive, I would not be so amazed, but it's all too easy to let my routine lull me into the illusion that life is somehow inert by nature.  De Chardin reminds us that we are always on the way.  We are forever becoming.

This doesn't mean that we're off the hook, that the work of justice and peace can just saunter along with no urgency or vigor.  Rather, I think it invites us to get moving because this work will take a lifetime.  It offers us grace as we realize that we will never truly be finished.  It fosters faith that we will need a community and a divine light to see this work to the end.

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.
― Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

3 months

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