“During that summertime retreat, I lamented to Harry that I didn’t seem to be changing quickly enough. I knew the kind of person I wanted to be: free, open, relaxed, loose, compassionate, patient, mature, generous. But my imperfections held me back. How would God change me? When would I change? Why wasn’t it happening faster?

Harry smiled and looked out the window to the grounds of the retreat house. ‘You see that tree over there?’ he said.

I glanced at a large maple tree on a knoll, which I passed frequently as I wandered through the woods. ‘It’s green now, but in a few months it will become a beautiful red.’ Then he paused.

‘And no one will see it change,’ he said.”

—Fr. James Martin SJ, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything


“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.
 And 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. Don’t 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 of you tomorrow.
 Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within 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.”

—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ, from a letter to a friend on patience


“You are so young, so much before all beginning, and I would like to beg you, dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

—Rainer Maria Rilke

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