Next month I’ll be taking several youth to visit a man named Abbot Tryphon, who is the head of the All Merciful Saviour Monastery near Seattle, WA. Most of these youth are not Christians, and in fact aren’t really interested in Christianity per se. And yet, as is evidenced by their continued, yet joyful pestering "When are we going to the monastery, Chris?", they are really interested in this. And I’m not entirely sure how it all came to be.

This was initially going to be a personal visit for my own spiritual growth, but when rumor got out, one by one they asked "Hey, could I come too?"

I should be excited about this (and in a small way I am), but actually I’m feeling cynical, irritated and frustrated. Why, you ask? Because this is in many ways only the beginning, and as I’ve learned over many years of youth work, growth.... is slow.

The problem however is mine. I am so eager for them to discover the beauty and truth of God that it’s like we’re on a cross-country pilgrimage and I just want to throw everyone into the car, jump in the drivers seat and speed off to the finish line.

I feel the internal pressure of having certain conversations with them, or asking them certain questions, of guiding them, steering them, pushing them toward God. But I must remember: I am not in the drivers seat. I am not really the one leading these youth toward the truth. I am only a fellow traveller on this path; I’ve not reached the destination. We all walk (or grow) only as fast as we are able. I must always remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. And it would seem God is endlessly patient. My Spiritual Father put it this way: "Our capacity to know and encounter truth, especially spiritual truth, is kind of like a pipe that is designed to carry so many litres of water per minute. If that same pipe gets twisted and turned and shrunk and kinked, then the amount of water it can carry is dramatically diminished. And, in fact, if you try to put too much water through that [twisted] pipe too fast, you will burst the pipe.."

-Chris Hawthorne


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