The slow work of God

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.

This beautiful poem by French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ (1881-1955), entitled ‘Trust in the slow work of God’, speaks to the sometimes-tortuous experience of waiting for God. In it, the poet gives us permission to not have all the answers, to allow our faith time to grow and develop. Above all, he invites us to do that most difficult of things: to live in the present moment; to surrender ourselves to God in that moment.

On this feast of the Assumption, we recall Mary’s role in the life of Jesus and in salvation. In the Gospel reading, we meet Mary, newly-pregnant and celebrating with her relative, Elizabeth. Given the circumstances, it would be understandable if she was unsure, nervous and fearful. Her future is uncertain, as indeed is that of her soon-to-be-born son. She cannot yet comprehend the enormity of what is to come. Yet Mary seems content to wait. When Elizabeth proclaims Mary ‘blessed,’ Mary herself bursts into prayer, praising God for his greatness and for ‘looking upon his lowly handmaid.’

In modern terms, this is a lesson in mindfulness. When we find ourselves impatient, struggling to comprehend or to trust God’s ways, let us turn to Mary, who accepted God’s plan with trust and hope, allowing it all to unfold, one step at a time. TrionaDoherty@Intercom