Friday, November 14, 2014

Patience is a Virtue

"In the Mediation Garden"
- At the Desert Retreat House -

Throughout most of my life people have been reminding me that "patience is a virtue." My guess is that I have heard this admonition so often because I was probably one of the most impatient people anyone had ever come across. 

I never quite understood why being patient was so virtuous - why would waiting around doing nothing until the next thing happened be such a positive trait? Waiting in a doctor's office, waiting for the document to print, waiting for an expected phone call, waiting to see if I got the job I wanted -times when my blood pressure would always go up, stress, angst. So why on earth is patience such a good thing?

In my later years of life I am beginning to realize that patience has nothing do with waiting for the next thing to happen. When you "practice patience" you pay attention to what is happening in the "now."

Yesterday I learned again why patience is such a noble quality on the spiritual path. 

I am currently working on a project of developing a new podcast that I will add to my daily blog posts. Since I know almost nothing about how to do this, I found myself a mentor who is helping me out. Yesterday we were upgrading my computer with the software that I will need for this new venture - the downloading process seemed to take forever.  A message on one screen said the program would download in 20 minutes but it actually took 45 minutes,  and then another screen popped up with even more stuff to do. This went on for the better part of the afternoon. 

As I sat beside my mentor staring at the blank screen with all those messages informing us of how much longer we had to wait, I kept thinking abut all the stuff I still had to do that afternoon. I became very anxious, there goes he blood pressure again. My young mentor then turned to me and offered a little piece of "off the cuff" advice.  He told me to just be patient, "patience is a virtue."

There it was again, another reminder to me that this period of waiting wasn't a time for anxiously anticipating what was to come, but rather a time to pay attention to what is. So,  rather than nervously sitting and staring at messages on a computer screen, I found myself engaging in a wonderful conversation with my "tech guru."  We talked about what it means to be religious, to walk a spiritual path, what it means to believe or not believe in "God." It was a very rich conversation, so much so that when all the software finally did download, I wished it would have taken longer.

Eckhart Tolle says:

Whatever the present moment contains, 
accept it as if you had chosen it
Always work with it, not against it.

What a great definition of what patience is all about. The practice of patience is an "acceptance of the present moment as if I had chosen it, working with it rather than resisting it." 

Saint Augustine taught:

Patience is the companion of wisdom. 

Amen to that! 

Patience is indeed a virtue.



1 comment:

  1. There's something to be said in favor of patience. I remember it was a trait I definitely did not learn from either of my parents. I learned a great deal about patience when working on machinery.