Working at the Speed of God
July 11, 2016
by Molly Wingate
What exactly is Godspeed? The original phrase from around 1250AD was Godspede, and the word spede meant success. It had nothing to do with the rate of travel. So wishing someone Godspeed means you are hoping that they will know God’s blessing and prosper. It was and is a blessing for future good luck and success. I find this ancient meaning helpful in my quest to know the workings of the God/Spirit/Mother in my life. It helps me know the speed of God.
I am usually in some kind of hurry. To get the chores done, the book read, essay written, project designed, funds raised, something seems always to have a deadline that is pressing on me. I am hardly unique in this. Lately, I have made an effort to separate my work in the world from the pressures of time. I wish to understand my activities in terms of how they further my spiritual life, and I hope to spend most of my life doing work that enriches my spiritual life. I hope to be able to answer the question does this deadline or current crisis feed my soul and help me do good in the world, or is it a manufactured stressor keeping me from my highest and best use? What is the speed of God in this moment? To hurry or to reflect on how I got to such a hurried state?
I didn’t always have the luxury of stopping to reflect. When the little ones were trying to escape the high-sided, claw-foot tub, one on each side, I didn’t have time to reflect on the nature of the crises I was averting by scooping them back into the bubbles. I also didn’t question if I was doing good work that fed my soul. Being present for my children always fills my soul, and if I have to hurry a bit, that is the speed of God. The speed of God is also slowing down to move through the world with a wobbly toddler, to field the “Where does God live?” questions from the backseat, or stop to admire yet another vinegar and baking soda volcano eruption. Moving at the speed of God in life is my good fortune.
Even this morning, my grown son called to chat just as I was getting ready to get down to writing. “My savior!” I said as I closed my computer and listened as he talked about how his new job is going and what he’s thinking about. He went off to work, and I felt very grateful to face a deadline and have the chance to connect with one of my favorite people. This, too, feels like I am moving at the speed of God and that it is my good fortune.
On a moment to moment basis, I have a sense of the speed of God, but on the larger timeline, I really wonder sometimes. What is God’s plan for my life and when will I know? I wonder if this project I have been working on for a while is going to catch on, or should I move on to something else? Is the spirit moving in my life? Am I deluded? Does slowing down or speeding up make things more clear?
A Quaker singer and songwriter, Carrie Newcomer, has song in which she sings about the holiness of ordinary life – prayerfully folding towels and cooking eggs. I like to think that seeing the sacred in the everyday helps me to witness the speed of God so that I can recognize it in the larger arenas of my life, too. What are those larger arenas but collections of smaller moments? How can I know God in the larger world if I don’t know God in the tiny moments of butterflies on my lavender plants, hummingbirds on the feeders, and the gentle kiss as my husband and I part for the day? These moments are moments of spede – success, prospering, good fortune. I experience Godspede, and thus I think I learn the ever shifting, ever present speed of God.
So today I know that the speed of God varies. I know that I am aware of God when things are moving quickly and when they are moving slowly. No one rate of travel through life is the best for knowing God, at least not for me. So when I feel frustrated that the speed of change or fruition is too slow, I hope I remember to notice the tiny moments of good fortune. When life is overwhelming and plunging ahead, I want to take comfort in knowing that this, too, is the speed of God. I hope to be at one with that speed and celebrate its blessings.