“McDonalds ruined us!” No, this isn’t a comment from a Wait Watchers meeting or a cardiac rehab training. It was made by a friend lamenting how we have become people who want what we want, the way we want it, when we want it… now!
Others have certainly copied what McDonalds pioneered. Fast-food has clearly become a more apt symbol of our impatient consumer culture than holiday dinner at Grandma’s house.
Patience — or my lack thereof — recurred throughout the past weekend. Planting a 10′ Heritage Oak tree yesterday I grieved that I would not live long enough to see this tree in its maturity. Why do some things have to take so long?
Yet, I tried to envision those yet unknown who would someday relax under the shade of a mighty oak. I mustered some satisfaction that tree planting is a blessing we can confer on generations yet unborn. Still, I want the tree to hurry-up and grow!
Patience also surfaced as an important theme at a reunion on Saturday. I had been privileged to assist with a retreat in April for eight men who were in various stages of recovery and had experienced homelessness as part of their experience with addiction. No one, absolutely no one, understands the demands of patience like these men.
Those who struggle with chronic relapse — and isn’t that all of us honest enough to admit we are not perfect — know in our bones how desperately difficult being patient can be. If we cannot dispense with them quickly, our well engrained cultural habit is just to ignore our faults or deny we have a problem. More honest than most of us, these men wrestle with excruciating demands of patience every day.
Coincidentally — providentially? — one of the other reunion planners had selected the following by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin for our opening meditation. Don’t be put off by the length, its worth the read:
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.
One of the men on retreat said it better and much more simply. Noting what technology has popularized far beyond what McDonalds pioneered, he said in only 15 words what the renown Jesuit priest, Teilhard de Chardin needed 164 words to say:
We’re the microwave generation. But we all know food tastes much better from the slow cooker!
Despite our dependence on fast-food and the latest kitchen technology, I am consoled to believe that most of us would still prefer Sunday dinner at Grandma’s house. Now, there’s hope for recovery!