Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Things Take Time

This is a homily by the late Fr. Jim Donelan, SJ from "God's Crooked Lines", a compilation of his homilies published by Tahanan Books in 1998. This was probably written before the age of cellphones and digital cameras, but as it is, it's already a good read for those of us who have problems with waiting. :)

Things Take Time

It is not easy for us these days to respect time, to be patient. We travel by jet and rocket. We speak by satellite. We cook by microwave. We use instant film and instant coffee. We can process more information in one minute using a computer than previously, working 260 years!

We are led to believe that we can transcend time, that we can find instant wisdom, instant maturity. We think one night in a singles' bar can establish a lasting relationship.

But if we look at the rest of God's creation, we find there are things that can't be rushed.

A good wine is to be aged. Rivers flow at their own pace. You cannot hasten the dawn, or hold back the sunset. The great ocean tides can't be hurried. The salmon know exactly when to swim upstream. The rose and the blade of grass know when to come forth. We cannot change the seasons.

And anniversaries can't be rushed, they have to be waited for, worked for. That's why they are precious: silver, gold, diamond.

For what is true of nature is true of us, we are pilgrims and wayfarers in time's current. We cannot rush it.

Look at how long it takes to develop human skills to become an Olympic champion, a concert pianist, a prima ballerina, a painter. These are long, lonely journeys. They take time.

If when each of us was born, a seedling had been planted near our house, we could measure the growth of our lives. Trees can't be rushed. They show how the winds blow. They stand tall in the sun, tall at midnight.

They teach us that the seasons of our lives cannot be manipulated. Not every story can be a digest. The seasons of our heart need time and careful tending.

All this is true of faith. It takes time to grow. It does not bring immediate answers to problems, nor instant comfort. Faith is not an aspirin.

For the most part, religious experience, faith, follows the pattern of the rest of human life. It requires fidelity to the commonplace, a daily response to what is ordinary. It needs to be nurtured by God's Word, the seed of the sower, and strengthened in prayer. At times it must be celebrated and affirmed in the community of God's people. It needs to be carried courageously into those parts of ourselves and those activities of our lives that are still closed off by fear or selfishness, which still can't stand faith's scrutiny. We must open ourselves to God at ever-deepening levels.

Faith grows quietly because it is God's gift, and it unfolds in the end in God's good time. All we have to do is to keep our mouth closed and our ears and hearts open. We have to have the courage to let go of all the illusory props and forms of security, to let go of the trapeze and allow God to take me in His everlasting arms and reshape my life and heart.

Will get back to work na.

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