May 15th – “Patience”
I think the most valuable human qualities to which we all aspire, are best defined not by words, but by actions, not by fancy slogans but by real life experiences.
This evening as I walked our dog Chloe around the block, I had a front row seat as “patience” was defined before me. A mom was teaching her son how to ride a two wheeler. She had a bike and he had a bike. She peddled on the road and he peddled on the sidewalk. Given that we were heading in the same direction, I could see a possible conflict. So I crossed to the other side of the road so the young man didn’t get tangled up in Golden Retriever. The little guy was no more than five years old. He would ride for about 10 squares of the sidewalk while his mom road beside him on the road. By about the tenth square he would come to a stop and put his feet down. Once his feet were on the ground, he couldn’t get started again. So his mom stopped, put the kickstand up on her bike, walked over to the sidewalk, and gently eased her son back onto the sidewalk and reminded him again of the mechanics of starting from a full stop. This happened about a dozen times around the block. This is what made me take not:
She never lost her cool.
She never “sighed” loudly when she had to stop and start again.
She never chastised him.
She offered nothing but gentle, kind, persistent encouragement.
I thought to myself how lucky that little guy was to have someone in his life who was that calm and encouraging and patient.
We call patience a virtue and it truly is. In the book of Samuel in the Bible it says that when we “lack patience, we miss out on blessings.” That’s a good way to think of it. Patience has its own rewards. It enables us to be present in a given situation and appreciate it for what it is, and when we can do that, the present moments releases for us its own unique gift, lesson or blessing.
I struggle with patience as so many of us do. I want to get to the next thing, the next event, the next moment, and if I think someone or something is keeping me from it, I can easily become agitated or frustrated. But really, is there anything more important than this very moment? Is there anything more valuable than the time or space that I am currently occupying?
In my meditation course we are invited to concentrate on our breathing because our breathing is a function of our bodies, and our bodies have no choice but to live in the moment. Our minds can race back and forth, our thoughts deflect us away from the here and now, but our breathing is locked in time. Like the beating of our hearts, our breath is the rhythm of time. It brings us back to the importance of each moment.
Eckhart Tolle put it this way, “most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole live which is never not now. And that’s a revelation for some people. To realize that your life is only ever now.”
Patience is more than a virtue, it is a vehicle that helps us to appreciate the blessings that are found in each moment. Today I am grateful for the gentle reminder that time goes by, and I want to make the most of each day, each moment, each breath.