Slowly

by Chris Koellhoffer, IHM   April 11, 2021

Here in Northeast PA, temperatures are usually lower than in neighborhoods less than a half hour to the south of us. That means that budding and blossoming are taking much longer to visit my corner of the world. Every time I pass by the forsythia bush in our yard, I fret over the seemingly glacial pace at which her buds are opening. A time lapse camera would have to be on high speed to capture any sense of unfolding progress. But I try to remember that the Universe takes its time when it’s creating. And I imagine, as the forsythia and I greet each other, that she whispers conspiratorially, “Slowly, slowly. That’s how I go.”

Yesterday when I was taking my daily walk, I ended by coming into the parking lot near the walking trail. A couple was sitting in their car with the windows rolled down and as I passed by, the driver yelled out, “Good for you! You’re doing great.” I don’t know if he called out his encouragement when he noticed how gingerly I set my foot down with every step. No longer able to walk as well or as painlessly or as quickly as I once did, I smiled and replied,  “Slowly, slowly. That’s how I go.”

Henrique Jacob, Unsplash

It occurred to me when those words came out of my mouth that what is true for the budding forsythia and true for my walking is just as true for all kinds of resurrection. I don’t know that transformation ever happens at high speed. I suspect that, in the life of the spirit and in the process of healing the body and in inner awareness and spiritual growth, there’s next to nothing that happens in an instant and lots more that calls for patience, labor, reflection, and ongoing attentiveness over time and space.

So what might our Easter celebration say about resurrection? What is the risen life of Jesus asking of us? Are we willing to do the deep, inner soul work that his ongoing life requires and to be about it “slowly, slowly”? Are we willing to give our lives over to the work of compassion and justice not simply in a moment of affirmation or praise but in the unglamorous, unnoticed, tedious and sometimes slow-as-molasses hours that make up a day, a week, a lifetime?

We remember how it took multiple visits from the risen Jesus to convince his disciples that he was, indeed, alive. Calling out a familiar, beloved name in the garden. Breaking through into a locked room. Walking the way to Emmaus. Grilling fish on the beach. There was nothing quick or hurried about the gradual grasp of the reality that the disciples’ friend and leader was no longer dead, that he had never ceased calling them to a new way of life. This is no less true for us as we commit to being faithful in the slow times when it might appear that nothing at all is happening, in the uncertain times when we’re shaken by doubt, aching with loss, confused and struggling to believe that any growth is taking place.

The spiritual writer Carlo Caretto left us with a rich illustration of some of the ways resurrection unfolds in our everyday lives. Notice that there’s no mention of haste or speed in his description:

“This is what it means to believe in the resurrection:
When you forgive your enemy
When you feed the hungry
When you defend the weak
You believe in the resurrection.

When you have the courage to marry
When you welcome the newly born child
When you build your home
You believe in the resurrection.

When you wake at peace in the morning
When you sing to the rising sun
When you go to work with joy
You believe in the resurrection.”

Takeaway
Sit in stillness with the Holy One.
Reflect on any area of your life where you may be struggling to grow,
where you may be yearning to see change or transformation.
Ask the Holy One for patience and trust in the unfolding blossoming within.
Give thanks for the ways in which resurrection is taking place, even if you can’t see it.

Featured image: Yoksel Zok, Unsplash

Note:
Please pray for all who will be part of a virtual evening of prayer, “Invitation to Blossoming,” on April 27. Our hour’s time together will explore the learnings that the life force of Spring offers us, the hopes that are stirring within us, and the divine greening power that is healing our world. If you’re interested in participating, register at “Invitation to Blossoming.”

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2 thoughts on “Slowly”

  1. Dear Sr. Chris,
    Thank you for this beautiful reflection; it resonates deeply with me. Thank you for leading the way…slowly…and with such grace. Peace and blessings to you.

  2. Such a lovely reading. The timing is perfect. A Godwink. God is working through you. Thank you for your gift of writing and sharing.

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