A Poem For the Graduates (And Myself)

A few days ago, I was cleaning my bookshelves and a piece of paper with the following poem scribbled fell out of a book:

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.
Yet it is the law of all progress, that it is made
by passing through some stages of instability,
and that may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually. Let them grow.
Let them shape themselves without undue haste.
Do not 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 you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new Spirit
gradually forming in 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.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God,
our loving vine-dresser.

“Trust in the Slow Work of God”
Teilhard de Chardin

I have no recollection of when I heard this poem, where I found it, or of even writing it down. Judging the book it fell out of, I would have to believe it came from somewhere in graduate school.

I remember those days, days full of energy and zeal. I felt like I had the whole world in my hands. With a Kimmy Schmidt enthusiasm, I believed that my classmates and I were somehow going to change the face of church music in the most positive of ways.

Well, that hasn’t happened. Yet. 

If I could say anything to “5-years-ago-graduating-Kristen” it would be the following:

Dear Kristen,
Slow down. Pace yourself. Breathe. “Trust in the slow work of God.” Energy can be both useful when used prudently and counterproductive when spent unwisely.

Pay attention to the ways you are growing and changing, especially when it feels like nothing is happening. Do not force good ideas or try to create ingenious thoughts. Trust your God-given intuition, keep learning, keep creating, and the good ideas will come.

Be prepared to make a lot of mistakes. Mistakes are okay. Say it with me: mistakes are okay. You will learn from them, and as trite and gimmicky as it may sound, learning is the point of trying things and failing. If you learn something, it can’t be a complete failure.

Embrace instability when it comes your way, because it is inevitable. It will not be fun, but it also will not be permanent. When you feel anxious, unless a bear is chasing you (in which case, run), think about why that might be instead of running (again, unless it is a bear). You might be in the middle of a musical suspension, waiting for God to resolve you. That might take a while, so perhaps try to learn to sit with your nerves. You do not have to be friends, but you do need to learn how to talk to your nerves and speak peace to them.

And again, slow down. Rome was not built in a day. (There’s your cheesy graduation cliché.) A house is not even built in a day. You can build a door in a day, so perhaps start there. “Trust in the slow work of God.” 

Much love,
Kristen of the Future

PS: Buy a better vacuum. You are going to be a corgi owner soon.