December 3, 2017
Patience in Prayer
One of my favorite prayers is taken from a letter written by the French Jesuit, author, and paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who died in 1955. It’s a passage urging the young recipient to be patient.
“Above all,” it begins, “trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.” The prayer suggests patience in all things, especially patience with yourself.
Advent is a season centered on patience. The central image of Advent, after all, is an expectant mother: Mary carrying Jesus.
But this is not simply a dull wait, as you might wait for the traffic light to turn green at an intersection. It’s a hopeful waiting, confident that God is about to do something exciting and that whatever God brings will be more than you imagine.
Still, waiting can be hard. And perhaps the most difficult thing is waiting for yourself to change. We all have an image of who we hope to become one day: perhaps kinder, freer, more generous.
And we don’t seem to get there. Or, rather, we don’t seem to get there fast enough. In those times I always remember an experience on a retreat. I was lamenting to my retreat director that I wasn’t changing fast enough. I felt stuck.
“Look out that window,” he said. It was a summer’s day. “What color is that tree?”
“Green,” I said, referring to a large maple. “What color is it in the fall?” he said.
“Red,” I said.
My retreat director said, “And no one sees it change.”
Trust in the slow work of God.
From: “In All Seasons, For All Reasons” by James Martin (Liturgical Press) –Jennifer Castle, Director of Faith Formation