Here we are at the “most wonderful time of the year.” For many people it may not feel so wonderful; some of us may put pressure on ourselves to make it wonderful and that pressure zaps the joy. One of my never-ending quests is for more patience. You too? We only get one life, so why the rush? We know how life ends.
I think that in finding patience, we may find the peace, joy and love in this season. So let us all work to have more patience with ourselves, first, as well as patience with our caregivers, those we care for, clients, neighbors, friends and strangers.
I am Catholic and I receive these advent prayers or reflections each day. They are often not even religious, like the reflection on patience that I have copied below. You may see yourself in the description of both the patient and impatient people; I know I did.
Patient people are more flexible with time than impatient people. Impatient people exist in only one time frame—their own. They are comfortable with only one schedule—theirs. They want things done when they want things done. And they expect the rest of the world to adapt to their schedule. If they want their child to be potty trained by twenty-four months and he is not by twenty-six, they get angry. If they have to stand in line at the store while an elderly lady ahead of them carries on a brief conversation with the cashier, they get upset because that lady is disrupting their schedule.
Patient people, on the other hand, can flow back and forth between different time frames. They know, for example, that potty training a child may necessitate entering a time frame other than their own. Waiting in line for a few extra moments while an elderly lady chats with a cashier invites patient people to momentarily set aside their own schedule. They enter with compassion the schedule of another, someone who is lonely and who may have more time than she knows what to do with.
Recently I did some creative imagining and took a walk with Patience. When I asked her, “What can I do to become more like you?” she thought for a moment, smiled warmly, and said, “Plant an acorn. . . .Befriend a turtle. . . .Teach a child.”
—Excerpted from Gracious Goodness by Melannie Svoboda, SND