imperceptible, irresistible

"The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground, and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he knows not how. The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear." (Mk 4.26-28)

I'm reminded of these words of Jesus as we come to the end of our first full year on the farm. It's been good to see the complete cycle of life here, as it progresses so surely and irresistibly, but so slowly that it's hard to notice any change day to day.

It also gives me another perspective on the slow development of our retreat work here. I am prone to moments of panic when I don't see the results I want, or the progress I think I'm supposed be seeing. Yet then there are other moments of quiet assurance that what has been promised will happen in the right time. And when I look back (sometimes using this journal) I am reminded how far we have already been carried, though time and again it seemed we were pressed up against a wall.

I think perhaps the imperceptibly slow but irresistible progress that we see in nature reflects God's usual way of acting. He works on us the same way. Often I am discouraged when people reject a radical challenge presented to them directly, but then I see them being softened and turned gradually over a span of several years. I expect the same kind of work is happening within the community here.

These thoughts bring to mind a favorite quote by William James:
I am against bigness and greatness in all their forms, and with the invisible molecular moral forces that work from individual to individual, stealing in through the crannies of the world like so many soft rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, and yet rending the hardest monuments of man’s pride, if you give them time.