Patience Is A Virtue
Have you ever heard that old axiom, "Patience is a virtue" and wondered what in the world it actually meant?
If you haven't, no worries. I'll do the wondering for the both of us because these are the kinds of things that plague me at 5 AM in the morning. I get that I'm a little odd that way, but that's my reality.
So I woke up today thinking about that phrase, about what it meant, and where it came from. I also woke up with the song "Hotstepper" by Ini Kamoze running a crazy loop in my head, so there's that, too.
At any rate, I did some research on the saying "Patience is a virtue," and discovered that it first appeared in the poem "Piers Plowman," which was written in 1360 by William Langland.
Langland actually wrote, "... patience is a fair virtue," which makes a lot more sense if I'm perfectly honest.
The accepted meaning of the axiom varies from author to author, but in the end, it really comes down to this: The ability to wait on something without frustration is a useful skill and a good aspect of one's personality.
Sadly, I'm not naturally imbued with this good aspect of personality. In other words, I'm not very patient. In fact, you could say that I not only lack patience, but I'm also undoubtedly overdrawn in my patience account---not that there was that much there, to begin with.
I don't like waiting in line. It doesn't matter whether it's a line at the DMV, at the pharmacy, for an attraction at Disney World, or to buy a t-shirt at a concert... I can't stand it.
I also find myself filled with nearly overwhelming anxiety having to wait on decisions, test results, or even for my favorite football team to make a decision about the latest free agents.
And don't get me started on how impatient I get with Interstate 35 traffic in Texas---pretty much every time I drive on it.
Lest you think I'm only impatient about trivial things, I'm also pretty dang tired of waiting on the world to change for the better. It seems like every time we take a step forward as a society, we take two steps back.
I read this wonderful quote by Richard Rohr some time ago, and in light of the phrase (and probably the song) in my head this morning, I decided to reflect on it with all of you:
There is a place in you that is not touched by coming and going, by up or down, by for or against, by totally right or totally wrong. It is patient with both goodness and evil, exactly as God seemingly is. It does not rush to judgment or demand closure right now. Rather, it stands vigilant and patient in the tragic gap that almost every moment offers. Could this be the essence of “faith?”
The fact of the matter is that there is a Spirit-of-God bathed space in each of us that is filled with serenity, peace, and the patience to wait on God to do what God will do. But we seldom tap into it.
Most of us do everything we can to avoid tapping into it if we're being upfront about things. We try to control our outcomes, plot our own destiny, and do everything we can to move things forward in the direction we want to go.
When what God might want from us most of all is to just sit and wait on God for a moment, to live in the tension of the now and not yet, and experience peace no matter what comes our way.
May we take the time during our Lenten journey to discover that patient, peace-filled space within us, and may we learn that there are infinite supplies of grace, peace, and patience for us to withdraw.
May it be so, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.