In Sue Monk Kidd’s book Firstlight in a chapter entitled Compassion she tells a story of how when she was twelve years old, on the last day of summer while her friends were spending the day swimming, her mother insisted she go with the youth group to visit some elderly folks in a nursing home. Kidd was not happy about this and as she entered the room she said, “…I stood before this ancient looking woman, holding a bouquet of crepe paper flowers. Everything about her saddened me—the worn down face, the lop-sided grin, the tendrils of gray hair protruding from a crocheted lavender cap.” Kidd said, “She thrust the bouquet at her. The old woman looked at her with a look that pierced her to the marrow of her twelve year old bones. Then the woman asked her, “You didn’t want to come, did you child?” Kidd replied, “Oh yes, I wanted to come.” The woman knew better. Kidd writes, “A smile lifted her crooked mouth, “It’s okay” the old woman said, “You can’t force the heart.”
If we look closely at the workings of creation, we find that God nearly always works through process. Think of it. First there is a seed then a sprout, then a blossom, and finally fruit.
God does not begin with a butterfly, but with a larva that becomes a chrysalis and finally a creature with wings.
Neither does God speak a star into existence, but sends dust floating into space, then interstellar gas that slowly heats up and eons later a star is formed.
Perhaps most mysterious of all is the unfolding of ovum, fetus, baby, child, adolescent, adult.
The universe is designed to move stage by stage, from incompletion to completion. Now why should we suppose that God has designed the heart any differently than the rest of creation? It too has its stages.
I connected so much with what Kidd says. I trulybelieve that compassion and love and all the deeply spiritual fruits and gifts are developed and grown through such a process. We are all works in progress.
“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.
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.”