Story One. I was second in the line in the express (12 items or less) checkout at the grocery store. Ahead of me for a much longer time than I thought possible, was an elderly, thin, obviously confused person who kept fumbling with the money required for payment. I will never be venerated as the most patient of saints, and well, an express line is an express line, so I leaned forward to see if I could help, kindly saying “Ma’am, could….” And stopped right there. I realized first, that she had a beard so I got that one wrong. But I also saw more clearly what was happening in the transaction, and noticed the kindness and patience shown to him by the young grocery clerk, gently, not exasperated, going step by step with him to help him figure it all out. I stopped, and saw clearly, and was touched. And taught.
Story Two. Some years ago, in a motherhouse community that shall remain unnamed, there was a disagreement about the pace at which the Office should be recited. There were two camps. One group wanted the psalms to be prayed at a contemplative pace, and the other felt that Dominic’s encouragement of his brethren to sing the office “breviter et fortiter” meant to keep up a brisk pace. And there were days when there was both pulling and pushing, speeding up and slowing down, the louder faction seeking to make its will known , sure evidence of the lack of accord. One day, the “fast” faction was definitely pushing the pace. And when the last notes of the “O Lumen” were sung, a member of the community who was known for her clear assessment of situations and her lack of hesitancy in naming them, approached one of the leaders of the “breviter” group and said to her, “And what exactly were you going to do with the two minutes you just saved?”
I imagine that question as a part of our life’s end dialogue with God at the Pearly Gates. What exactly did you gain from all your impatience and the efficiency you required of yourself and others? How exactly was the Reign of God served, the people of God better loved, the face of Christ manifest to the world by your rushing about, always in the passing lane, getting things done? And we could have, perhaps, another billion or so years—or there being no time in God, a very long “now”—to come up with an answer.
Summer flowers among us. The light of Christ, the breezes and streams of the Spirit call us to attention and contemplation of the flowering of all that is so precious to God. We want to be there, don’t we, present to that endless moment, to share and to celebrate the sight of “all creation groaning in one great act of giving birth” (Romans 8).