Rev Dr. Regina Walton

On Waiting and Slow Work

I often attend the Tuesday evening Eucharist at the Society of St. John the Evangelist in Cambridge. The brothers have just begun their Lenten sermon series on “Radical Practices,” and I heard a very fine sermon by Br. Geoffrey Tristram that you can read or listen to here. (Br. Geoffrey has a nice Oxbridge British accent, so you may prefer listening to it!)

Br. Geoffrey preached on “the radical practice of waiting.” In our culture, waiting is truly a radical practice, and also one in which I am unlikely to ever win any awards, or even honorable mentions. And yet more and more, I am beginning to see the value of waiting on the Lord in our ministry together at Grace Church. One of the insights that came out of our recent Vestry retreat, at Bethany House in Arlington, was that it’s okay to name a problem or an issue, and take a while as a Vestry or as a community to ponder it, without rushing to propose possible solutions. It’s okay, and sometimes even necessary, to allow ourselves to sit with the issue before us, without knowing what we will do. This kind of slow deliberation can allow room for the Holy Spirit to work on our hearts over time, and for the way forward to emerge from this—whereas this opportunity is squashed if we rush to fill the need with possible solutions or answers right away. In this spirit, I commend this meditation to you, on the slow work of God. May we trust in this slow work now, and always.

In Christ,

“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 all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability –
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue 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 of you tomorrow.

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.”

Patient Trust
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ
excerpted from Hearts on Fire