We live in a rushed culture. Despite the deceleration of daily living forced by a worldwide pandemic, internally we are still programmed from toddlerhood for quick, constant action.
“This is your chance to save!”
“Hurry, it won’t last long!”
“I can’t wait until I am in high school!”
“Let’s take advantage of the interest rates now and buy a bigger house!”
“Get that job finished now! Another is waiting!”
“She needs this day care center now to best prepare her for grade school!”
“Time is money!”
“Act now! Don’t miss out!”
These declarations sound familiar? If so it is because, in a myriad of ways, we are all pressured by external forces to act, move, and get it done. Now.
Curiously, God seldom acts quickly.
Science tells us the Great Emergence, or Great Bang, occurred 13.8 Billion years ago. But complex humans have been around just 200,000 years…a miniscule fraction of time compared to the unimaginable billions of years that preceded human existence.
At my recent annual eye exam, I engaged the doctor in a discussion of the miracle of human sight. He said humans will never design a human eye; the nerve endings alone…1.5 million extending from the back of the eye to the brain in a circumference not bigger than the lead in a pencil… is beyond our imagination or abilities to reproduce. It is even more astounding that it took nearly 14 billion years of evolution to create the human eye.
In contemplating these phenomena, a respect for God’s pace emerges.
In today’s section from the letter to the Galatians, Paul’s reflects on the slowness of his discernment of God’s will for his life. He tells us it was a long, circuitous route. He didn’t just fall off the horse and start preaching to the Gentiles the next day. Reading his full life story, we know God’s plan for him took decades to be realized.
Today’s psalm is good to read in moments of quiet: “I give thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made; wonderful are your works.” All on God’s time.
And as we read the passage from Luke about Jesus welcoming Mary Magdalene to sit at his feet and learn as a disciple, as only male could do in that culture, we understand the inclusivity of God. She wanted to know more of God’s awesome ways…the ways of grace, working with time and nature, to form a creation that reflects God’s immense love for each of us.
As we all face the serious suffering and fears of COVID-19, economic hardships, human threats to our natural environment, racial injustice and political incivility we may be tempted to get anxious and worried (like Martha?) and want quick solutions.
There are no quick solutions.
But there is hope.
As Christ’s disciples, we are offered one way to strengthen hope: God’s will. To discern it we must go to our rooms in quiet, as Jesus directed.
Then, be patient and listen. If you give God this space God will lead you, on God’s schedule, in the direction you must go. This and this alone, will give you relief from our crazy, rushed culture. This way alone will provide you the deep, lasting peace you seek.
Jim Wayne is a board member of the Passionist Solidarity Network (PSN), and author of The Unfinished Man. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky.