Patience. I pray for patience, and I want it right now!! (joke)!
Patience is not one of my spiritual gifts, and as I grow older, it does not seem to get any better….. Waiting to talk to someone on the phone, and all I get is a recording. Waiting in grocery lines, while the ice cream melts. Waiting for lunch at the not-so-fast-food place. Waiting for a return phone call from the doctor’s (or worse, the dentist’s) office. Waiting for the light to turn green, and then having it turn yellow, just as I get to the intersection. Waiting for a package in the mail. Waiting for that injury to heal, and doing physical therapy until it hurts.
There is a very slow, unhurried, uncomfortable time between beginnings and endings that test my patience: between the planting of tiny plants and full blooms; casting out a line and waiting for a big trout to see my bait; smelling the coffee and thinking about the first sip; hiking through the trees and finally reaching the top; starting the oven and smelling the cookies; packing carefully for a trip and finally getting to the destination; opening a novel and reaching the culmination of the story.
Remember when you were a kid, and you could not wait for Christmas, or your birthday? Remember those long car-trips when you said, “are we there yet?” Oh, just be patient…!
Well, I’m not there yet. So, I’ve been thinking about a magazine article that suggested that we “believe in the in-between.” “Patience is not waiting politely. It’s a sweat-stained practice of making peace with what is, while putting our weight behind what we believe can be. Holding tension because we know it’s more than unavoidable, it’s necessary…What we’re waiting for and working toward is worth it.” Well said. Patience is not always passive, and we can choose to enjoy the journey along the way before we finally reach the end-goal.
Then, I discovered something that really made sense. I can fill my waiting-time with gratitude. I was standing in the lift-line on a beautiful ski day. Instead of impatiently grumbling about the wait, I realized I was SO grateful to be skiing on a bluebird-sky day, with sunshine and groomed snow. I chastised myself for complaining about a lift-line. I finally figured out that gratitude is a great time-filler and it changes my whole attitude: I am grateful to have an oven in which cookies can bake! I am so grateful to have the opportunity to hike, and fish and be outdoors. I am grateful that I have the financial opportunity to buy any groceries, even so, a cart-full. I am grateful to have a car that runs and gets me where I need to go, while I am less grateful for those other clue-less drivers….
I was running late one day on a shopping trip, when I suddenly ran into an old friend. I stopped; I slowed down; I took the time to see her, hear her story, and I left with a full heart and an unexpected hug. I was grateful that I took the time and did not rush our meeting. I was thinking more about being grateful than about the invasion of my hurried schedule. Another friend told me about how much she enjoyed talking to people while she was receiving chemotherapy at the hospital. She said that sharing – laughter and tears — made the time go faster.
I am very grateful for the doctors and nurses and PT people who keep my body in running order, and I count my blessings that they are there to help me through the pain, even if I have to wait a while…..
Generally, what I have to wait for is worth it, very much so. When I lose my patience, I have lost control and then I miss all the good stuff in the in-between. All I can think about is me. I am learning that patience is actively, intentionally, using my time to seek the positive, even in a negative situation, and recognizing that sometimes it is in our very best interest to just WAIT.
It is amazing what might happen “in between.”