We are being created momently by our God and Lord in all concrete particulars and…we are listening to God’s summons into life when we let ourselves hear our most authentic desires, which rise out of God’s passionate, creative love in us.
-Joseph A Tetlow, S.J.
When my spiritual director shared this passage with me, I was enthralled by the description of being created moment by moment and in all concrete particulars. It is easy to look back on the past month or year and to make broad observations about how I’ve grown, but when I live moment by moment in the present, I don’t always feel like I am growing or being created. When thinking back, I don’t necessarily think of a given concrete particular and mark it as a distinct growing period. I usually think more broadly and abstractly. (i.e “This” happened over “this” period of time.) We don’t always notice the growth or when exactly it occurred, because it is always happening.
I’ve been noticing this a lot with our vegetable garden lately. I check it every morning and every evening to see if any new sprouts have come up and to see how much the established plants have grown. Sometimes, especially after a hot sunny day, I’m shocked to discover that the zucchini mysteriously developed three new shoots and the beans are miraculously an inch or two taller. When did this happen? Well, it happened moment by moment in all concrete particulars.
One of my favorite humorous, yet telling, phrases from G.K. Chesterton is, “A man does not grow a beard in a fit of passion.” We all want growth but we cannot become the person we desire to be in a 24 hour period or in a movement of fervor and passion. A man’s beard or a bean plant may look exactly the same from one day to another, but both are growing at any given moment.
I hope that is encouraging to you—knowing that right now you are being created. You don’t always feel it, it is difficult to observe in the moment, but when you look back on this year, your overall growth will include this very moment right now, and the moment immediately following—and the moment after that.
If you want to grow, if you want to advance in some area of your life—a skill, a relationship, a habit—you start by working on it, even just a little bit right, now. Not much of lasting significance comes from a fit of passion. Sometimes these fits of passion are just inaugural events or catalysts for a new phase of awareness and intention—which then lead to new habits—which then contribute to new areas of growth and development.
All growth happens slowly, moment by moment, in all concrete particulars.
Photo credit: Lance Baker [Loc.] Antigua, Guatemala