The Holy Spirit has been quiet today. Too quiet.
Since the beginning of Lent, I’ve noticed that each day’s topic of ‘found spirituality’ has turned up pretty early on—usually in the pre-dawn hours, and never later than the beginning of my work day.
The pattern was broken today, though. Lunchtime came, and a slight feeling of panic set in. “I got NOTHIN’!” I realized, as my ego (all too easily bruised by perceived failures) started setting off a few alarms.
Didn’t like the sensation, of course. It felt a little like abandonment: “C’mon, God – gimme what I need! And here, by the way, is the schedule that would be most convenient for me.”
And as I was turning up the volume on that refrain, all of a sudden, another familiar lyric popped into my consciousness.
If you listened to rock in the ‘70s and ‘80s, you probably know where I’m going with this: Tom Petty, the Heartbreaker…today had become for me Tom Petty, the Prophet, reminding me that the waiting is often the hardest part.
Given the way my musical memory works, it was just a short jump from there to recognize that Petty could be counted on for more than one spiritual insight. Feeling lost and alone…abandoned by God? Well, I suppose don’t really have to “live like a refugee.” (Ahem.)
At which point, the Holy Spirit gave me a dope-slap, and said, “John…we were just talking about the virtue of patience here. Can we re-focus a bit?”
I had a sneaking suspicion about where my memory was about to be led next – to one of my favorite reflections, penned by one of my favorite spiritual writers, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin S.J. It’s called Patient Trust. Its “money line” goes like this:
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.
Wonderful words to contemplate. And—as I have discovered yet again today—words that are very difficult to live. The waiting often is the hardest part.