Trusting in the Slow Work of the Resurrection
By Charlotte Phillips
This time of quarantine brings with it a laundry list of emotions. Some days are filled with joy – the kids play nicely together, my husband and I get our work done with little interruption, and no one complains about dinner.
Other days do not go as smoothly – the kids are all craving attention at the exact moment my husband and I are on work calls, mean words are said, and tempers are lost.
Most days fall somewhere in the middle, just as pre-quarantine days did. While I am saddened by the reason we are forced to stay in our homes, good has come from our time spent together as a family. We are no longer rushing from one event to the next. While we are still dividing our time between work obligations and schoolwork, most afternoons allow for leisurely family walks or bike rides, and bedtime is less rushed with additional stories and new prayers.
But, even during these moments of joy, and with the gift of extra time due to COVID-19, I cannot help but feel a sadness – people all over the world are becoming ill from this extremely contagious virus. Our overly busy lives came to a screeching halt because of a worldwide virus that we have no control over.
It seems only natural to compare these feelings to our recently finished Lent. It feels as though we are spending a little more time in Holy Saturday. The state of our world makes it not quite feel like Easter. It is a time of sorrowful joy.
While I am grateful that my immediate family is healthy, our parents and grandparents are healthy, my husband and I both still have our jobs and have the luxury of working from home and spending time with our four amazing children, I cannot help but feel a sadness for those who have died, those who are suffering alone and for their loved ones.
I am sad for those who have lost their jobs and for businesses that are closed. I am sad my brother wasn’t able to visit for Easter and that we haven’t been able to see my in-laws. I miss going to Mass. I miss being able to work without kids underfoot. I am sad my kids are missing the end of their school year, their friends and activities.
Maybe you, too, are experiencing this sorrowful joy?
We have become so accustomed to a face-paced, instant-gratification life, we want-and expect-to feel Easter Sunday joy immediately. I will be the first to admit that patience is not one of my strongest points. I remember when I was younger my dad telling me, “Patience is a virtue.” Without a thought, I would respond, “Yes, a virtue I do not have!”
Easter is here, and I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to leave Holy Saturday and feel the Easter joy now! When I find myself feeling impatient for Easter joy, I turn to the prayer “Patient Trust” by Jesuit Pierre 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.
“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.
It is okay if we are still lingering in Holy Saturday. These Holy Saturday moments invite us to be patient, and, as de Chardin says, “Trust in the slow work of God.”
Let us not forget the ways God has made himself known during this pandemic – communities have rallied to feed the less fortunate, to make masks for our frontline workers and to support small business in ways we have not before. When the state of our world causes us to feel sorrow, let us thank God for empathy and ask God to give us the graces of peace, strength and endurance to get through this trying time.
As we lean on the slow work of the Resurrection entering our lives, let us remember to cling to what we do know – we know Jesus rose. We know that Easter joy is available to us. We know we can be filled with joy once again and trust in the slow work of God.
Charlotte Phillips lives in New Orleans with her husband, Kevin, and their four young children. They are parishioners of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Rampart Street, but can often be found at morning daily Mass at St. Anthony of Padua in New Orleans. Professionally, Charlotte is the ministry assistant and blog editor for Becky Eldredge. She has bachelor’s degree in theology and a master’s of pastoral studies from Spring Hill College. Charlotte enjoys Ignatian Spirituality, reading, listening to live music and bike riding with her family.