There was a time in my life when speed was appreciated more than the journey. There was a time, in my teens, when I did not appreciate the famous Latin melody “Dona Nobis Pacem”. Compared to the songs of my youth, it had no pizzazz, no catchy rhythms. Yes, there was something exalted about it, but why did our choir director have to spend so many sessions practicing it? I would have much rather spent the time practicing a spiritual like “Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho” or a contemporary song.
My teenaged impatience was no match for the schooled precision of our choir director, so practice “Dona Nobis Pacem” we did. And we performed it well. Little did I realize that instead of closing my world, “Dona Nobis Pacem” opened it…to an important spiritual truth.
Fast forward a few decades. I find myself in Germany intrigued by a sign on the Autobahn announcing an approaching “Autobahn Chapel”. Chapels in hospitals, and even airports, I had experienced. But a chapel for those putting the pedal-to-the-medal? I took the exit and within minutes found myself opening the door to a contemporary chapel at the top of a small hill...a chapel completely in the round.
Sparsely furnished and yet warmed by the presence of flowers and candles, I sat for a spell enjoying the unique architecture. I then noticed some laminated song sheets tucked in a corner. The dozen songs on the sheet were in German, of course. All except for “Dona Nobis Pacem”. I braved the chance to sing. The slow, noble words spread their wings to the ceiling and beyond. The acoustics were wonderful! A few minutes later another sojourner entered and joined me in singing. This moment of peace, this moment of global understanding was thanks to my former choir director.
Sin is marked by speed, grace restores over time.
This experience made me think of grace. So much of modern living wants fast, autobahn-like results. So much about grace takes place slowly. For example, granting another child of God the right to draw different conclusions may seem counterproductive. After all, our six thesis points would make everything clear – if we could only get the other person to listen! How much better, is the slow work of creating trust – trust that one’s questions will not be belittled or made light of. Trust that the friendship will remain even though each individuals conclusions may differ.
Consider also this: in a moment of haste we can speak words (or, worse yet, take actions) that take years to undo. Sin is marked by speed, grace restores over time. Speed vs. Patience. This healing process looks at grace from a different angle. Time and tears must do their good work. Perhaps my first lessons in appreciating this fact were the tedious practice sessions of “Dona Nobis Pacem”. Even the Autobahn Chapel I visited had to be reached on foot, since the parking lot was at the foot of the hill on which the chapel was located.
Grace is a gift to be savored, one that reveals its blessings slowly.
Grace is a gift to be savored, one that reveals its blessings slowly. Back as a teenager, how much I had to learn about life, loving and gift of patience towards others. How much I still have to learn!
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect...and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of live, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. // Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience... // Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble." I Peter 3: 7, 15-16, 8