Saturday, January 9, 2010

Biding Time – That Lost Art of Patience

“You must pass through the circumference of time before arriving at the centre of opportunity... God Himself chastens not with a rod but with time.”

—Balthasar Gracian.

I’m learning a lot about patience and tolerance from one of my teenage daughters. Well, I should clarify that... I’m observing a lot of those traits in her. I always find it amazing how age transcends the norms of wisdom; I’ve known at least a half dozen mid-late teens more wise than many octogenarians.

Of course, like any generalisation there are plenty of exceptions. Teens are typically most impatient as a rule. And the Gen-Y age we observe nowadays also attests they want jobs where they enter at the very top of the pile, nudging out the experienced hands for the selectively gentile “cream” tasks. Teens are (generally) so over mopping floors.

Yet, so are we. Impatient, that is. The issue above is the fact that we ourselves are our very worst enemies, for God’s sense of timing is woeful if you’d only ask us from time to time. He is so slow!

Waiting necessarily brings us to the cusp of wisdom, for who can wait these days? We all seem to know by heart the old cliché, ‘Patience is a virtue’; well, it just seems to be a precursory parent virtue driving a lot of others, much like thankfulness does. Does not patience kindle and perpetuate peace, joy, respect, appreciation and kindness?

With patience and the ability to bide our time we buy ourselves much in the way of real tangible life—an attitude of life, or otherwise, the abundant life.

It’s a paradoxical virtue because we get by refusing. We get joy by refusing to take it. We delay our gratification, yet enjoy it all the more. We focus on process and leave the outcomes to their very selves, not betwixt by them, wavering between them.

If we can bear with time, coping through it, wading joyfully in the midst of life come what may, ours is life, golden joy in cornucopia.

Yet, it’s something we’ll have to learn the hard way. The destiny of the patient is blessing just as the destiny of the impatient is rampant, continuous and consistent cursing. It’s the very nature of life. We see it basically everywhere.

We ought to want time be slowed not speeded up. Our coordinates on time are so vastly askew. Slowing time and truly tasting all of what life has to offer us, without the externalities attached, which only server to bring in worry, greed, fretting and an entire realm of death-giving liabilities; that’s got to be the key.

Being impatient and hurrying through anything detracts from our experience of it. Soon we’ve concertinaed in our whole existence. All the life within us gets squeezed out of us. God says, ‘Okay then, if that’s the way you want it...’

We’re too often willing to forego the present to get to our futures. The trouble with the future is we never get there! We trade the only thing we have for one of two things we’ll never have. (The other is our past—back to us, neatly wrapped to be experienced all over again?—that’s madness.)

Learning to wait, and applying same, can be the only true way to contentment in this physical/spiritual life. Slowing down to actual speed is a very simple and a great but elusive blessing in this age. Any age for that matter.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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