Things happen so quickly now. We are so used to the constant movement of images on our multiple screens. We begin to think that this is the natural movement of reality. You just need to hold on and keep moving with the calls and the texts and the emails and the multiple incursions of our social media posts!
This dizzying display of attention-grabbing and letting-go for the next visual event can give us a mistaken impression about the way things naturally grow and develop. It can make us impatient and falsely satisfied with the superficial. This is the way things are, we say. Otherwise life can become boring (another falsehood!)
We have a common expression: time is money. We have the mistaken idea that the faster you go the more productive you are. But things that are rushed are not always best. There is a value to slow, methodical labor which produces a beautiful and useful result. Quantity is no substitute for quality.
Most of the best things in life grow slowly. Take friendship. We might like a classmate or a coworker, but in time we begin to value them more and trust grows. After a couple of years, and some meals together and visiting each other’s homes, we look forward to being together not just at work but socially as well. We find common interests. We spend quality time together.
If someone tries to speed this up, the other may feel obliged to reciprocate feeling ‘railroaded’ into a friendship that has not grown naturally, but has been forced on one side of the relationship.
We can see this slow development and growth in many areas of life. Take the healing of a wound. First, the bleeding has to stop, then the cleansing and dressing of the wound. During this time, the wound is very sensitive and painful with every movement. The wound starts to heal through the development of new skin that forms a scar over the wound. During this stage, the pain has turned into an itch. As it continues to heal, we often forget about it, until we notice one day that it is completely healed, the opening has knit itself together, the body has produced the antibodies to prevent infection, and there simply is no wound any more. It may have taken a month, but it is really and truly healed.
So, too, is the development of ideas, spiritual growth and just about all progress, corporeally, socially, intellectually and spiritually. False growth and healing are rapid and not permanent; true growth and healing is slow and organic.
We have to realize the historical progression between the slow sounds of the farm to the beat of the machines in the Industrial Revolution, to the silent whir and click of the computer. It is always faster, never slower.
But natural law is something that requires time and slow progression. When we rush things, we impose on reality our own wills and the demands of the moment and refuse to see the whole progression of things. There is a Muslim proverb: “Haste comes from the devil, slowness from God.” While this is not meant to be a law but a guidepost, it does clearly say that there is a certain timeliness to everything that happens that really matters and that it is part of the vanity and pride of man that he can ignore this reality and suit all things according to his whims. Reality is objective and must be respected if we are to benefit from it.
The constant desire for newness and innovation can be a psychological bulwark against the fear we have of boredom. This is hardly ever spoken about; but in the midst of this pandemic when many of our diversions are limited or done away with, boredom emerges as a very unwelcome ghost that needs to be gotten rid of by any means.
But is boredom so bad? Does the fear of boredom need to direct so much in our lives? Does it need to prevent the slow and sure development of the processes of life? Can we not be content to do it the right way even if it takes time and is boring?
Our relationship with God is the antidote to all these fears. It makes of all reality an event, since we meet Christ in the daily routine of our lives. And He says simply to us: “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5)!