Today as I sit in my chair waiting for light to come I have a sense of urgency because there is a lot to achieve before my head hits the pillow again, so to speak. The days are getting shorter now. I was dismayed to know that when my alarm woke me a while ago it wasn’t a mistake. It was 6:30 and still dark outside. And yesterday we needed lights on in our living room by 6:00PM. I wonder why I was so astonished; the solstice was almost two weeks ago! I guess it is true that the older I get, the faster time seems to go.
Lest this devolve into a lament about old age which I refuse to allow because of my reverence for the wisdom of my elders, I remind myself of the advice of the great Jesuit paleontologist and theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin who is often quoted as saying: “Trust in the slow work of God.” I’ve known that line for a long time but this morning I came across the text from which that line originates.
Above all, he writes, 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.
As I was copying Teilhard’s words, they seemed similar to Rilke’s “Letters to a Young Poet” wherein similar advice about patience in life was given. I smile as I consider the necessity of hearing about the ongoing need for patience with myself and with the flow of life at my age. It is perhaps never totally achieved but maybe that is a good thing as it calls us to always reach for “the more” while accepting what is at this very moment. So on I go, slowly enough to notice the birdsong and the emerging color in the maple leaves that have now come into view, but ready as well to tackle the tasks of this day in patience and gratitude for life in this world in this time.