Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Renovate: Part II

A few weeks ago, there was nowhere in our messy, dirty, chaotic house that I wanted to pray; I wanted somewhere beautiful and ordered to pray pleasant prayers and think nice thoughts. When I realised this, I chose to sit instead in the very centre of the stripped-bare den amidst layers of dust and piles of tools. I wanted to BE in my home, my life and myself as they really were, really are. I wanted to come and present myself to God as I really am, to let my prayers and thoughts and questions and feelings be as messy as my surroundings, and not try to brush my dirt under the carpet or whitewash my crumbling walls. And it was good. Instead of feeling uncomfortable and ill-at-ease as I’d expected, I felt relieved, welcomed, accepted. It was OK. I was OK. God was OK.

The truth is, you see, that I am as much a work in progress as my oh-so-nearly-finished den. Truth is, I get as frustrated (or probably more!) with my own unfinishedness and messiness and imperfection as I do with that of our room under renovation. Truth is, I’d like the work on me to be over and done with – I would like myself, my life and my relationships to be beautiful and ordered, with everything in its place – and I often make out to myself and others that what I hope and long for is already the case... And then I get sorely disappointed and ashamed when I ‘remember’ and see again those parts of myself that are still battered and broken after all this time, stripped bare and not yet renewed, or simply changing and therefore still incomplete. But sitting in the unfinished room that day, I could clearly see that its ‘ugliness’ and ‘imperfection’ were not a product of defect, failure or deficiency, but of transformation. Its chaos was beautiful as a sign of change and potential. The room is messy because it is being renovated, renewed, restored... and so am I. And so are you. We are beautiful works in progress, incredibly loved and with untold potential.

The words below from Teilhard de Chardin are some of my very favourite in the world, to which I return on paper or in my heart time and again, reminding myself to ‘trust in the slow work of God’ in me, my life, and in the world and people that surround me, accepting the in-between-ness and ‘chaos’ that this necessarily entails. I hope you enjoy and are encouraged by these words as much as I am:

Patient Trust
by Pierre Teilhard De Chardin

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 states 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.

Copyright: The Institute of Jesuit Sources

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