Patience: it’s not really a word we find often in our society. Sure we may hear it a lot, but we don’t actually see it. We want everything to come quickly and efficiently. We want fast internet, fast service at restaurants, traffic-free roadways, etc. This post is not going to be a rant about the current state of the American society. I’m also not talking about the importance of finding rest in ones busy schedule. I’m talking about patience here.
Patience can be varied in it’s meaning. Merriam-Webster defines patience as, “being able to remain calm and not become annoyed when waiting for a long time or when dealing with problems or difficult people.” This is the more traditional sense of the word, and it is certainly a good practice, but I want to discuss a different kind of patience, one that may not be recognized as often.
I’m going to quote a passage directly from a book titled “Compassion.” It explains and illustrates what patience might be:
“These patient moments can differ greatly from one another. They may occur while we are simply sitting at the bedside of a sick person and realize that being together is the most important thing. They may happen while we are working on a regular task and suddenly recognize that it is good simply to be alive and to work. They may take place while we stand in a quiet church and realize unexpectedly that all is present here and now. We remember these and similar moments with great gratitude. We say: ‘It seemed that time came to a standstill; everything came together and simply was. I will never forget that moment.’ These moments are not necessarily happy, joyful, or ecstatic. They may be full of sorrow and pain, or marked by agony and struggle. What counts is the experience of fullness, inner importance, and maturation. What counts is the knowledge that in that moment real life touched us. From such moments we do not want to move away; rather, we want to live them to the fullest.”
I can think of a time when I experienced such a moment. During my mission to Ecuador in 2012 we spent a day visiting various childcare locations. This patient moment occurred for me as I sat down at one of those locations with a child in my lap, and I realized that sometimes all that child needs is your presence. We sat there watching the world go by, not playing, not speaking, merely sitting. It was a peaceful moment where it didn’t matter who I was, or who this child sitting with me was, all that mattered was that we were together, trusting one another.
These moments may be difficult to experience, and I certainly don’t think they can be sought out purposefully. Due to the busyness of our lives we may never be able to experience a peaceful moment of patience where it is good to just exist on this Earth. The experience of these patient moments are still relatively unknown to me and it is hard to fully explain them. They are a God given experience that we should enjoy and thank Him for.
So, to conclude; can you think of a moment in your life where you were able to experience a moment of peaceful patience? I would love hear about it!
Source: “Compassion,” Henri J. M. Nouwen, Donald P. McNeill, Douglas A. Morrison
Ecuador Journal, 2012