There are times when life feels fallow. Dormant. Anxious and unsure.
Energy is flagging, the freshness we felt at the beginning of a project, job, or relationship has passed, or we’re feeling the weight of resistance or struggle. We begin to question whether we’re on the right path, or whether we have what it takes to finish the work we need to do.
Sharing an annual retreat with Doctor of Ministry candidates at Eden Theological Seminary the past three years, I’m aware an advanced degree requires deep reserves of persistence and trust. It can be an especially long journey for pastors and religious professionals, as pressing needs in the community compete for valuable time and energy.
As the DMin cohort gathered last week, Spirit whispered a short song into my ear and it framed several of our worship gatherings. It’s based on a devotional poem by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit priest, philosopher, and paleontologist whose spiritual writings reveal a deep, complex faith. It’s repeated again and again to become a prayer of the heart, using the same cyclical structure as a Taizé chant.
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.
The chant could be used for Confession or Assurance, for Prayers of the People, or any time we need to be reminded God is always at work in our lives, even when we can’t see it.
Take a listen below and purchase a score if you’d like to use it with your congregation or choir. The piece is accompanied by a shruti box or drone instrument on D and A (or organ, as in the recording). It can also be sung as a round when the assembly is secure in the melody..
Trust the work.
Trust the slow work.
Trust the slow work of God within you.
Text: Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.
Music: Paul M. Vasile, LovedIntoBeing Music ©2019