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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Patience and Passion

Patience is not exactly my strong suit.

Never has been. Probably never will be.

It's not that I can't wait for something. Life has taught me many lessons about that. Sometimes I've learned them with a sense of grace and style. And then at other times . . .well. . . .not so much.

I'm patiently waiting to start this new chapter of my life at Episcopal Divinity School. I'm excited to begin and, I suppose, there's a wee bit of "let's get started" that could find itself in the column labeled "Impatience".

I think, rather, I'm "patiently waiting." Big difference.

I want to savor each step of this journey because, before I know it, it will be over.

My three pregnancies each taught me something about patience. I feel much the same way now. "Pregnant" with possibilities. Longing to give birth to what is about to happen, but knowing that there's still time. Indeed, it can be unhealthy to what is being created to be born prematurely.

At this point, Ms. Conroy wants you to know that I was at least a week early with each of my pregnancies.

And I should like you to know that our last child was born 2.5 weeks ahead of schedule, mostly because Ms. Conroy would whisper into my belly, "C'mon! Hurry up!"

That's not where I have the problem with patience.

I do not suffer fools gladly. I have no patience with incompetence - especially when said incompetent person is being paid well for what s/he is doing.

I have no patience with injustice - especially when the church, The Body of Christ, cooperates with injustice or is, herself, the vehicle of injustice.

I have no patience with prejudice and bigotry - individually or corporately - and, again, when the church is not part of the solution but part of the problem. Especially when She does so whilst quoting scripture.

I have no patience with mediocrity - especially when excellence is the only effective response. Again, the church as institution often talks a standard of excellence but clings to the safe reach of mediocrity.

I can not imagine being a Christian and being in a long-term relationship with mediocrity, bigotry, prejudice, injustice and incompetence.

As you might be able to tell, I'm pretty passionate about this.

I think Jesus was, too.

As I've been 'patiently waiting' today, I rediscovered this wonderful poem by Maya Angelou
Seek patience
and passion
in equal amounts.

Patience alone
will not build the temple.

Passion alone
will destroy its walls.
I understand what she's saying, but I don't want to accept it as truth, even though I know it is.

There's a word for that: Stubborn. Here's another: Willful.

The trick, I've found, is not getting stuck in the middle of seeking "equal amounts" of patience and passion.

It's not an easy balancing act. Sometimes, you get perilously close to one end or the other. I know I've sometimes had to crawl back along the plank to get closer to the fulcrum, lest I fall off completely.

In the 'last minute packing' for Cambridge - coffee pot, coffee, power bars, just a few things to get me through the first few mornings until I can find a local market with good produce and moderate prices - I've been packing away little bits and pieces of wisdom like this one from Maya Angelou.

Intellect and wisdom may not share opposite ends of the fulcrum - like patience and passion. I know that I've done some very smart things in the past which were not necessarily wise. I'm betting some of you know exactly what I am talking about.

To quote from the wisdom of Piglet, "I didn't know I was being brave. It just happened after I panicked."

A word came to me in the midst of this morning's meditation. It was this: "Open."

I heard it as an invitation as well as a directive.

I think that's the only way to seek patience and passion 'in equal amounts'.

My intellect understands that. It's a wise person who can actually live it.

Pray for me and I'll pray for you.


Malinda said...

Amen my dear and may I use this with our ministry teams?

it's margaret said...

Praying. Always. And for you on this adventure in particular! Patient passion and passionate patience. Amen.

walter said...

..How to strike At the perfect balance between patience and passion, subjectively seeking patience and passion in our Inclusive Existential Theology? Patiently waiting is a wonderful score. I hope you find a way to integrate my latest holy reading of Psalm 139 on which I have Cced you personally with what I believe is not only your semantic literary reading but a holy reading of patience and passion and comprehending that you pray for me all the time I surrender to ILove you all the time, I guess someone else would have to do the praying in this case (smile)-revolutionary Love in the name of the One who keeps us centered and focused and truthful. ILove my Little Girl, ILove my Traveling Mercies, ILove my Brother.

Walter Vitale

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Malinda - Absolutely. My pleasure and honor.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hey Margaret. If you're praying for me, I'm covered. Jesus listens to you. He wouldn't dare not.

I'm here! Now what? said...

“Patience is a hard discipline. It is not just waiting until something happens over which we have no control: the arrival of the bus, the end of the rain, the return of a friend, the resolution of a conflict. Patience is not a waiting passivity until someone else does something. Patience asks us to live the moment to the fullest, to be completely present to the moment, to taste the here and now, to be where we are. When we are impatient we try to get away from where we are. We behave as if the real thing will happen tomorrow, later and somewhere else. Let’s be patient and trust that the treasure we look for is hidden in the ground on which we stand.” - Henri Nouwen

Matthew said...

I don't suffer fools gladly either. One of my lifelong struggles is that this gets me into big trouble because sometimes when I point out mediocrity and incompetence I am consered rude, insensitive and uncaring. Some of it could have to do with the tone of my delivery but I also think no one likes to be called incompetent. Not really a nice way to put it. I have been known on multiple occassions to make people cry. I once said to a parishioner who thought I was too harsh, "I wish I could trade my brain for your heart." Please pray for me and any advice you have is appreciated. I will try to be more patient.

Kirkepiscatoid said...

@Matthew: I think many of us "suffer fools poorly" and have a grace deficiency about that. I'm in that category. Fer shure.

One of my growing edges is to allow for God's grace where I'm deficient.