There is something in me that recognises at a deep level the process of adjustment which R. S. Thomas describes in this poem:
We never catch
him at work, but can only say,
coming suddenly upon an amendment,
that here he has been.
This has very much been my experience of vocation – both of discernment and formation. I never seem to catch God in the act of transformation, and yet I am transformed. Not in a spectacular way, but in many tiny, ongoing ways – ‘adjustments’ indeed, perhaps that is a better, less dramatic, more honest way of describing this process.
I know there is a model of formation for priesthood which suggests we need to be ‘broken’ or in some sense de-constructed as part of the process, in order to be ‘put back together’ in ways which better equip us for ordained ministry. I don’t buy that. It doesn’t sound to me like the way the God I know and love works. And it presents an altogether more heroic concept of the process of formation than I am comfortable with.
I prefer the idea of adjustments. All those changes, small and not-so-small, which reset our course a little, which reframe a part of our worldview, which at some level change and gently (or sometimes not-so-gently) re-shape us. This is the God I recognise. God who is attentive to who we are, who cherishes both who we are and who we are becoming, who nudges and leads us into becoming more ourselves, more fully the people God has created us to be.
And we – or I, at least – rarely notice the adjustments as they happen. But sometimes I look back and think: “ah, yes, this is not where I was then, I have been changed.” An adjustment has happened.
This year for #AdventBookClub we are reading “Frequencies of God: walking through Advent with R.S. Thomas” by Carys Walsh. Join the conversation on Twitter using #AdventBookClub or on Facebook by searching for the group ‘Advent Book Club’.