I recently overheard one of our high school students reflecting on her life and faith. She felt bored in life, and asked God to give her some challenge so that she could grow. As I passed by, I couldn’t help but think (actually, say out loud to myself), “Oh, girl, you don’t know what you are asking for. Life will hit you with plenty of challenges sooner than you’d like.”
We go through seasons where life seems to be a school in our frailty and incompleteness as human beings. As I move through life right now, I have many dear to me who are deeply struggling. There are darknesses of disease, both physical and psychological, unemployment, infertility, instability. And, as we live together and love each other, we take on each other’s burdens in certain ways. Sometimes physically, and often in thought, emotional energy, and through prayer.
I work during the summertime, but there is a different pace with fewer students on campus. So, when I saw a morning of prayer – Discovering our Sacred Stories- at the Loyola Institute for Spirituality, I jumped on the opportunity. I wanted the time away from work and anticipated a potentially nice spiritual refresh. God wanted more.
As I walked onto the campus, I was met by a breeze streaming through the garden that hit me with peace. I looked around at the planned but not fully manicured space and felt calm joy. God wanted me here today.
When our incompleteness is met with gentleness. God’s mercy.
Our morning was based on the Examination of Consciousness, which I would highly suggest trying if you aren’t familiar with it. It is a beautifully simple and pragmatic form of prayer given to us by St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits.
As we eased our way into prayer, we began with words I had not heard for a time, but needed to hear. Patient Trust by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ. He begins, “Above all, trust in the slow work of God.” And ends, “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.”
I needed this affirmation- God is at work in me; and, I am incomplete and feel so. It is the marriage of these two realities that is potentially life changing- God, help me to be present to your Presence in my life. I don’t see how you are working, and I don’t understand your ways. But, help me to believe in and look for your slow work.
When we look around, believing in the slow work of God, we begin to see that there is always life coming forth. Even in darkness, there is growth; there is newness, there is movement; there is Someone working within us.
As we sit and work and walk and wait today, let’s do so with eyes open, trying to live a wide-awake life.