... in slowing down

Published on 14 Sep 2018
Patchwork quilt being made

In this era of convenience and fast food there has been an interesting fashion for slow food. Slow-cooked lamb, fermented foods like kefir or kimchi, and bread like sourdough (which takes 8-12 hours to rise as opposed to 2) are all thought to taste better than some of their convenience equivalents, and to somehow be better for us. 

I'm a bit slapdash in artistic things. I tend to rush things (handwriting, pictures, craft projects). I did art classes at one time and the teacher was amazed at the speed with which I painted things (small presents for friends and family). She seemed a little envious at my speed but also despaired because she realised that I was happy to go at this frenetic pace rather than slowing down to hers and actually learning something from it. 

It is only much more recently that I've begun to realise that art develops better when it is created slowly. Even I in my amateurish fashion create things in layers. Each layer takes time. The first layer is sometimes semi-obliterated by the first, and top layer partly obliterates the second, yet this process of creating layers is what makes something more meaningful, deeper, and, I think, more beautiful. Sometimes people say to me 'I don't know how you have the patience.' I am not patient, I think, I just have faith that the process will be worth it. That's a different thing. 

The work of God in each of us is surely the same. The slow growth, the building up of ideas, sensations. Accompanied by a forward momentum, but one sometimes difficult to see. My favourite quotation from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ is "Above all, trust in the slow work of God." I should just breathe deeply and repeat that everyday, as I look about me. 

Prayer of Teilhard de Chardin SJ

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.