Editor’s note: DC Service Corps associate Hannah reflects on the ways God is slowly moving through her life throughout this new beginning.
According to a recent “guess how many beans in the jar” activity at a social hosted by Catholic Volunteer Network, an average serving of beans consists of 1100 beans.
A few weeks ago, I put black beans on the grocery list, not specifying the 15,400 beans required to feed our community of 14. I thought my community mates shopping that weekend would return with canned beans; therefore, it was quite the surprise when they bought uncooked black beans. I studied the instructions: boil for two minutes, let sit for one hour to rinse the beans, and then simmer for another two hours until desired tenderness. On a Sunday afternoon in the Casa, I committed to the process.
The following weekend I completed the same routine: boil for two minutes, sit for an hour, and simmer for two hours. A three-hour process that would typically take less than a minute to open a can of beans.
About midway through cooking my second batch of beans, I began to see God in the experience. God was trying to communicate to me through these black beans. My transition to the Casa has been sprinkled with challenges. While I was anticipating the move to D.C. with great delight, in the weeks and now months since arriving, I often find myself longing for what was. The park I used to visit in Chicago between classes, the friends I was a mere walk from rather than a flight, and the countless moments I spent gazing over the horizon in front of the magnificent Lake Michigan. I often long for the comfortable and the familiar.
Earlier on the day of my first bean adventure, some of my Casa community mates and I traveled to Great Falls National Park to hike the Billy Goat Trail. The trail we chose to hike was paved with rocks. All sorts of them too. With each step we were unsure of what would lie ahead of us. At some point Anna, one of the missioners-in-training, exclaimed, “I like the unknown.” While she was referencing the trail, my heart took note of this as I have been struggling to embrace uncertainty.
I trusted in my unknown ability to cook beans that are edible, why was it so hard to accept the unknown within my own life? While I am still not fully transitioned, I realize God is slowly working through my feelings of instability and incompleteness.
In periods of transition, I find myself leaning into this prayer written by 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.
Boil for two minutes, let sit for one hour, and simmer for two hours. Similar to the process of cooking beans, the slow work of God provides nourishment and a spirit full of love. God will not leave us hangry.
Reflection Question: How is your heart experiencing the slow work of God?