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afourtreesThere are two adjacent ranch-style houses on our road whose owners each planted four trees in a row across their front yard. I have watched them grow over the years and sometimes wonder if it was the desire of the owners to have a lot of shade, to hide from the road or just to satisfy their love of trees. They have seemed to me as they’ve grown like a line of sentinels from one yard to the other. Because I am always driving when I pass them, I really don’t know if they are the same kind of trees; I just admire their beauty and their strength.

On my drive home early yesterday evening I was luxuriating in the lush green all around me (not much traffic on our road at 7:00 on a Sunday) when I was brought up short by those trees! Suddenly, after years of tiny incremental growth, they are mammoth and have totally obscured the houses! Today I wonder if I need to pay more attention to the obvious lesson that I have been getting on our own land and now elsewhere about what Teilhard de Chardin calls “the slow work of God” and Rilke describes as living the questions rather than being impatient to find answers. Sometimes it seems as if they have conspired with God on the same message!

I was not surprised this morning on opening the Jesuit prayerbook, Hearts on Fire, to find Teilhard’s words on the page before me. So once again I will try to slow down and listen carefully.

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…(p.102)