Pierre Teilhard de Chardin is known in several arenas: paleontology, geology, philosophy, theology – but it’s possible that his most widely known writing is a poem from a prayer book entitled Hearts on Fire: Praying with the Jesuits (Loyola Press, 2005).
The poem is “Patient Trust” and it begins: “Above all, trust in the slow work of God….” This is hard for most of us to do. We think not only that it’s all about us, but also that it’s entirely up to us. This is not to suggest that we don’t have responsibilities. Among our responsibilities is to determine what we want to do with our lives, to get very clear about it, and to set about doing what we can see to do toward it. But if we have envisioned well, the goal will be bigger than what we can achieve by ourselves, and trusting God becomes part of our job.
The poem continues: “We are quite naturally inpatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We would 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.” Boy, do we hate the idea that it might take a very long time.
Part of the benefit of trusting is that we aren’t alone in enduring however long it takes. But there is another part too that has to do with allowing the ripening that must occur. You will be a different person at the end than you are today, and the “passing through” is the sacred shaper of who you will become. The only way to “get” that is by trust.