Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Pace of Progress

A few weeks ago I constructed a small stone path near the faucet in my backyard. I was tired of stepping on mud and weeds to turn on and off the hose. I’m quite proud of my construction and learned a lot from the endeavor.

My parents were visiting and helped with the first few phases – clearing & leveling the ground, purchasing & hauling the materials, and beginning to pattern the stones on the path. Upper body strength not being my forte, it was a tremendous help to have my Dad there, especially when moving the 50lb bags of sand and the equally heavy, but more awkwardly-shaped stones. He also came in handy with the mallet and breaking stones to fit in smaller places (after he left, I tried his technique to no avail!)

After my parents left, I finished alone. I purchased a couple additional stones, more sand and went to work. I am not one to shy from difficult tasks (even lifting heavy objects on my own), but my typical mode of operation is to give it one big heave-ho. I conjure all the power I have and wham try and make it happen all in one motion. (Don’t worry Mom, I still try and implement the “bend with your knees” advice.) For the most part it works.

Notice I said, "for the most part."

This plan worked for moving sand bags. This plan also worked for most of the stones. However, one of the stones I purchased (sans my parents) was huge. As the worker lifted it into my truck a little voice in the back of my head said, “How are you going to carry this!?”

It was indeed a dilemma! I had to put down the tailgate on the truck, slide the stone to the edge, lay a pillow on-top the dolly (knowing I couldn’t hold the weight of the stone as it free-fell the foot or so from the tailgate to the dolly and fearing it would break as it hit), slide it off the edge and hope for the best. Once on the dolly it was still an effort: to tilt it back, hold it’s awkward edges flush to the dolly as I traversed the uneven yard (through the gate, over tree roots). Then there was positioning the stone: wiggling it to the edge of the dolly, slowly lowering it to the ground, “sliding” and scooting it into position. It took great effort and more time than I had imagined. I’m tired just recalling it. And there was no way to rush the process.

And it hit me. So often in life we want to “heave-ho” our problems away. We long to, in one moment of greatness conjure all our power and in one grand motion and act of trust give it to God, get rid of it, and most importantly to be “done” with it.

And yet, spiritual growth and spiritual healing rarely takes this form. It often takes multiple steps: first this, then that, finally this. It often takes sustained effort: daily offering, nightly surrendering, persistent praying. It often takes time: more than we’d like, moment to moment, not on our watch. And, most important (and sometimes most frustrating to us do-it-yourselfers) it requires help: a friend to listen, a priest to absolve, a Church community to embrace us, and God’s grace to transform us.

If you find yourself today frustrated with the pace of your progress or eager to be “done” with some hurt, some doubt, or some dilemma – take heart! Take it to the Lord, over and over. Listen to His suggestions: first this, then that, finally this. Sustain the effort: every day, every hour, every minute if needed. Quit looking at the clock – how long it takes is of little consequence; God is with you now. Reach out to others. And allow His grace to work in you.

May we soak up every moment of this Holy Week. May we not “rush” to the Resurrection, but walk with Christ in the Crucifixion. Listening, watching, uniting, following, carrying, joining and offering. By his wounds we are healed. Let us enter in and be changed.


Nathan H said...

Sarah, your writing is worth the wait. Thank you as always.

Erin said...

I love when Sarah writes! My favorite quote is always, "and then it hit me." You just can't get better than that. Keep up the good work! :)

Jamie said...

So beautiful. Thanks for posting.