Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Trust in the slow work of God

I have blogged about this before, (Wise words for us all: 2/18/11) but the more I reflect on the processes involved in writing an icon, the more do I return to a very famous quote from Teilhard – it is usually written out as a poem. (Above all trust in the slow work of God.) Of course this is NOT a poem, and I eventually tracked down his actual words to The Making of Mind: letters of a soldier priest 1914-19. These letters were written to his cousin, Marguerite Teillard-Chambon. (Left) His reflections on trusting in the slow work of God are contained in a letter from Zuydcoote, ( in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais) 4th July, 1915. He is replying to her letter in which she talks about the difficulties of ‘ living in the world as though not being of the world.’ And this is what he has to say.

Above all, 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 progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability – and that may take a very long time. Thus, we have been a whole years’s suspense, not knowing what the future holds for civilization. And so it is with you. Your ideas mature gradually – let them grow, let them shape themselves without due 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 you tomorrow. Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within in you will be. Give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you surely through the obscurity and ‘becoming’, and accept, for love of him, the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.

In the ‘poem’ that is in circulation the text is messed up and bits added, which are not Teilhard at all! What Teilhard is saying here is so important: if we accept that evolution is indeed part of God’s design, and that the Sacred Heart is the end or focal point ( the Omega) of evolution, then when we pray ‘ O Sacred Heart of Jesus I place all my trust in you.’, we are expressing a faith in the slow work of God in the Cosmos and in US! Teilhard is saying that we have to trust in the evolutionary processes in our own lives, and in the direction of evolution of creation itself. Ian is the expert on this, of course, but it seems to me that an icon is very much an example of trusting in the slow work of God.

(Teilhard continues:

ways of living can be sanctified, and for each for individual the ideal way is that which our Lord leads him through the natural development of his tastes and the pressure of circumstances… begin by devoting yourself to the fulfillment of the task, often thankless, assigned to you by God. He himself will help you, he will give you..the firm base you need to work from. Allow yourself to be formed by God…)

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