Unhurriedness Is One of God’s Characteristics

"Unhurriedness is one of God's characteristics and is manifested in nearly all His works. The lightning flash is instantaneous, it is true, but the thundercloud is slow in building. [Volcanoes] may erupt without notice, but their nether fires burn the lava long before it boils out the fault in the earth's crust. The meteor may plummet in white heat through our atmosphere, but it traveled far across space before the pull of our planet dragged it from its trajectory. In other words, sudden phenomena are but the results of processes that work slowly, through fixed laws"... [Isidore O'Brien, O.F.M.; Mirror of Christ: Francis of Assisi; 1944; pg 29]


Unhurried (adjective): done in a relaxed and deliberate way. (Synonyms): thoughtfulness, consideration, purposefulness.

Conversion, metanoia, and repentance, are all words that imply a change in direction, even a change in state. What has drifted off target is now properly aligned. What was dead is raised to new life. We know that it's God's grace that accomplishes or at least precedes our change.

Our expectations as to how quickly this change should take place can be a hindrance in realizing any spiritual goal; be it a change in sinful behavior, growth in virtue, or the bearing of fruit in the apostolate. In our modern way of life, we have become slaves to fast, quick, and easy. So much so, that we are disappointed when our desires are delayed. We are frustrated when our apostolate is slow in bearing fruit.

What's missing is the awareness of God's 'unhurriedness': His care and purposefulness in all matters. The Divine workings are usually unseen, so much so that we are unmindful of their presence; in the same way that we are unaware of the air we breathe. Perhaps these workings are even mysteriously veiled in order to counter our conceit and prevent us from taking credit for what is truly a gift.

Picture loving parents, sitting in awe watching their toddler play with 'building blocks'. They have no concern for the 'block structure'...that's bound to tumble over. Rather their gaze is upon the beauty of the child: a child who is growing and developing; all according to a mysterious design. Their role is to nourish and sustain proper development…in an 'unhurried' manner…with thoughtfulness, consideration, and purposefulness.

Regarding ourselves, can we look for hidden graces in the 'unhurried' ongoing conversion of each and every day, and pay less attention to 'how high we've stacked the blocks'? Can we discern how the whole and entirety of the activities taking place, in all of the time we are allotted, are somehow contributing, little by little, to our spiritual formation? Again, all of this taking place in a relaxed manner…purposefully…unhurriedly.

Consider St. Paul's conversion. The direct encounter with our Lord on the road to Damascus was a terribly dramatic event. It was as the flash of lightning…the complete change in trajectory of his spiritual zeal. But we should not overlook the long and sustained divine movements that were at work before the conversion. Paul tells us himself that he was"…advancing in Judaism beyond many of the same age, for I was more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors ." He further explains that he was "called and set apart in his mother's womb." (see Gal. 1:14-15) We remember the dramatic, while giving little credence to the 'unhurried' workings. How 'unhurried' the way of God, working even from the womb.

What of our own ongoing conversions? Take the long view. When reflecting upon highlighted moments of great joy, or darkened moments of painful distress; think of the long path that brought you there (like that of the meteor). Pay attention to unnoticed simple events and those habitual behaviors that appear mundane and of no concern. These are actually the nether fires under the volcano, waiting to erupt when the unusual circumstance arrives. This is where God's 'unhurried' transformation is taking place; cooperate with it.

Finally, what of our resistance to conversion, our fear of how daunting the challenge appears? Yes, daunting when looking for sudden and dramatic results. But to cooperate with God's grace over time - full of confidence that unhurriedness is one of God's characteristics; gives us the patience to see and know that roots are taking hold, foundations are being built, and mountains are being moved.

1 comment:

teresa_anawim2 said...

One of the reasons I took an early retirement from the arts and education was the hurriedness of it all...get it done yesterday! Do the work of 3 people because there is always someone who will do the work for 2 and they are in line for your position if the work doesn't excel.
Everything was frenetic activity and our youth are being formed accordingly...video game speed in everything. No time to reflect..even upon one's actions and motives.
As a contemplative I had to leave the workplace (a wonderful window opened to retire and I took the package). I now am enjoying the silence and peace each day which allows me to pray,reflect,muse, consider, think,read etc.
Oh, I have not left this world..I am still going out into the marketplace and at times into the workplace of a different kingdom, but unhurried,enjoying the gift of being and walking in His presence.
It is so different being able to take time to pray for those I encounter each day as I ride the train or pass in the car or rub elbows with in the market.
Taking time to live life more abundantly! To enjoy the gifts He has graced me with and share them with others.