When it comes to getting what we want:
We like speed,
We like access,
and its expectancy.
We demand now,
but not later.
We love here,
but want to be there.
We love the event,
We want it all,
not one thing less.
I’m learning that sometimes the process is where beauty resides. Being a disciple of Christ is not an event to which I suddenly arrive. It is a process. It is no secret that some of the best things take time. Some things have a quantifiable end or reward. In those cases the reward and journey are equally the prize. Think of a football team who recently won the Super Bowl. Surely the hard work of the season was rewarding, but winning the championship is an amazing reward as well. If you diminish the value of either the reward or the journey, you miss out on the glory of the entire story. However, many matters of spirituality and spiritual growth are not as easily quantifiable and are much more of a gradual process rather than something that is accomplished overnight or even over a few years.
One of my favorite things about making coffee or tea is the process I go through to prepare my drink. The process of making coffee in a French press is one of my favorite things about making coffee in the first place. My wife recently bought me a nice teapot and the same principle applies there. If I want good coffee or tea, I must submit to the process. Boil water. Grind beans. Pour into press. Pour water into press. Stir. Wait four minutes. Stir again. Pour.
And I’m beginning to see the value in learning to enjoy this ritualistic process of following the steps and seeing the beauty in each passing moment. In New Seeds of Contemplation, Thomas Merton suggests that every moment is an opportunity to reflect on something about the Kingdom or against it. The same is true with our actions. We can work towards advancing the Kingdom or remain comfortable and likely do more damage than good. I believe God is a God of movement. Even when we are “still” there is work to be done. Sometimes the work is abiding and resting and other times it is tilling the fields or collecting the harvest. The work is simply one stage in the process.
I believe our processes are the same way. With the French Press, if I decide to speed up the process, the rich and bold flavor of the coffee will be lost and replaced with something bland, watered-down and only a fraction of what it could have been. If I see each passing step as an opportunity for Kingdom work rather than “a step to get through” I will see the glory in each moment. It is a temptation to make the process self-centered and perceive the progress through the lens of my own thoughts and feelings. This is the tragic fallacy in following God: creating a followership of God that still manages to be centered on ourselves.
Process also implies forward motion. If I stay in one stage of the process for too long, that greatly affects the outcome as well. Let’s just stay with the coffee analogy. If I pour the water in the press with the grinds and let it steep for hours and hours, the water becomes cold, the grinds become over brewed and the taste is terrible. When I see the opportunity to take a step in progress, I must take it. I realize this isn’t a perfect analogy because sometimes you stay in the same “step” for years or maybe decades. However, I think it speaks to the importance of our need to be aware of that next step and take it when it comes. But before that next step presents itself, sometimes the best thing you can do is simply see the beauty in the current stage.
How am I ruining the process?
Am I missing the beauty of today by anticipating the glories of tomorrow?
What must I do to slow down to not only recognize the process around me but learn to respect and enjoy it?