Be Patient, Oh Tortoise
November 7, 2016
At Reservoir’s fall retreat, I read this poem on Saturday morning to introduce a time of reflection and prayer. I shared that at first, it seemed to be a funny poem about a stupid animal. Then over time, I realized that it is also a funny poem about a stupid me. I am so slow to learn, and God is so eager to forgive me and to be with me and enjoy my slow learning.
Scott Cairns: On Slow Learning
If you have ever owned
a tortoise, you already know
how difficult paper training can be
for some pets.
Even if you get so far
as to instill in your tortoise
the the value of achieving the paper
there remains one obstacle –
your tortoise’s intrinsic sloth.
Even a well-intentioned tortoise
may find himself, in his journeys
to be painfully far from the mark.
Failing, your tortoise may shy away
for weeks within his shell,
utterly ashamed, or looking up with tiny,
wet eyes might offer an honest shrug.
–Scott Cairns, “Slow Learner” in Compass of Affection: New and Selected Poems (Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2006), 5.
However you are slow or challenged today, take it easy on yourself.
Jesus is eager to take it easy on you.