"Seeds are there, and you may think they are unproductive, but do your part in watering them, and ears will surely sprout and in time become ripe." -Philip Jacob Spener
I was re-reading/skimming Pia Desideria by Philip Jacob Spener this afternoon in order to get reacquainted with his work for one of my classes and I came across the above quote. I was encouraged to read those words... especially from someone whose ideas and dreams for the church are (and this is tragic in many ways) still yet to be seen in full fruition.
How impatient we are. Indeed, how impatient I am. It seems that our addiction to efficiency has made us utterly dependent on instant gratification. We expect to see results, to see the fruit of our labor in immediate succession. And, I believe, our impatience has caused our vision to shrink. Our imagination of what's possible has been forfeited to our expectation of what's immediately achievable. If we can't see the end of the road, we're hardly capable of taking a step in its direction, even if the road clearly leads to someplace better.
Prior to the above quote, Spener writes,
"let us not abandon all hope before we have set our hands to the task. Let us not lay down our rod and staff if we do not have the desired success at once. What is impossible for men remains possible for God. Eventually God's hour must come, if only we wait for it."These are helpful reminders not only for the praxis and ministry of the Church but, I am convinced, for the realm of social and political action as well.
Let me avoid abstraction for a moment... ask yourself, how often have you heard someone discard the endeavor for nonviolent peacemaking to the realm of the impractical only because they don't see how it could work--even though they might concede to the fact that the world would be better without war and retribution? How many times have you heard someone justify their apathy toward the homeless because the problem is just too big? Sure... I'll go there... How often have you heard frustration over the graduality of President Obama's implementation of vision, even from those who believe the direction is good? How often do we put down the shovel before we start digging the hole? Too often we end up doing nothing simply because we can't do everything.
Let us be people willing to experiment on the smallest of scales. Let us not be so enticed by our society's attraction to efficiency and results. May our imaginations be free to dream beyond the capacity of our bodies and may our feet be willing to walk toward a land of promise beyond the limits of our mobility. Let us water with Christ the seeds of the cross.