I took some time early this morning to look through a small devotional book on the Church year. It interested me that it looked at Christmas and Theophany, and then immediately went to Great Lent. It was as though these times of the year immediately abut one another. And of course they do, to a certain extent – but not without the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple.
It seemed again the commentator was in a hurry – first there’s Christmas – then’s there’s Lent. “Gentlemen! Start your engines!” But this is not the way the Church tells time. There is much hustle and bustle, and a child is born. I remember that our first born child came earlier than expected, so there was a great deal of rushing about the house. But a child is born, and suddenly things slow down; for a child, thank God, still lives at a human pace. They eat and sleep, etc., at a fully human pace, and it cannot be sped along. I smile sometimes (and maybe the adults are correct) when parents have their infant listening to Mozart – speeding their brains along – though I doubt it.
There is a time when the infant has come and things properly slow down. In the Church, things slow down and we wait (traditionally 40 days) for the Churching of the Mother and the Churching of the Child. These days, such things are often sped up (but should they be?).
In our Christian life, regardless of our age, we encounter Christ, and things slow down. Not because we lack intelligence, but because we possess too much speed. We slow down because human life was never meant to be lived at the pace we take it today. It is important that we are clear on the object of our waiting – and though He is everywhere present and filling all things – He still calls us to wait. Let patience have her perfect work.
Or, as the monks were told, “Stay in your cell and your cell will teach you everything.”
Virtues are acquired very slowly. In many cases they take years. We cannot hurry up and learn patience.