Though it’s been four summers since I left the school year rotation, every time the leaves are back on the trees and the temperatures rise, I still feel a sense of anticipation, like I’m ready for the next exciting thing to happen.
Summer used to mean going to camp, a new job or internship or, at the very least, a break from the normal routine of the school year. Now, summer just means I make iced coffee before work instead of hot coffee and worry a little bit more about the frizz in my hair that has to look professional because I’m still going to work. The same work. The same job that I had months ago when I was bundled in a winter coat.
I guess I haven’t fully lost what summer used to mean because that anticipation still gnaws at me a little when the seasons change and I think about where I am and why things aren’t changing in my life in concert with the seasons. Perhaps it’s a millennial thing, where I constantly question the meaning of my life in regard to my career. Am I fulfilled enough? Am I making a big enough difference in the world?
Am I just a product of an instant-gratification generation that’s prone to wanting to change jobs every five minutes because we can’t sit still long enough in the life we have?
Perhaps.But that’s where prayer comes in. Discernment is a scary word to me, but when I think it might be time to start deciding on a next move or another big change I want to make in my life, I think about and question why I want those changes, and then I pray. If there’s a goal out there that I can’t wait to grasp, I keep working, and I pray.The prayer at right refers to people like me, apparently one of those quite naturally impatient people, and that’s why I find it so soothing. It calls me out on that right away, and reminds me why trust and patience are virtues worth practicing. Maybe it will do that for you, too. What I also enjoy about this prayer is that it still calls me to be an active participant in this process. I am not asked to sit by and wait for God to take care of everything. I am called to work hard and to think. And, most importantly, I am called to trust.
PRAYER OF TEILHARD DE CHARDIN
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 it 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 —
s— 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. Amen.
Anna Jones is a writer who lives in New Haven. She and her husband are members of the St. Thomas More Chapel and Center Community at Yale University.