Give the Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
–Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, from “Patient Trust“
I suspect I look a lot more patient on the outside than I feel on the inside.
Some of this is actual life-learned wisdom: for example, hurrying a toddler quickly becomes an exercise in cooked-spaghetti-pushing. It is paradoxically faster, in that situation, to move through the toddler’s time and process with her than it is to push.* Which, to my mind, is not actual patience, but instead transcendent impatience. Interestingly, I’ve found this approach works with pretty much everyone, not only toddlers…I think toddlers get the rap because they’re louder. So yeah, I may look patient but it’s in service to a much larger and more subtle effort to hurry everyone along.
Some of my apparent patience is an absence of direction. If I knew what to do next, I could set about doing it! But instead there is no way forward in action. Or the few things I can see to do don’t strike me as fully helpful. This, too, does not feel like patience to me…it’s the forced stillness of a waiting room without magazines. (Which should be one of the circles of Hell.) Rigid, yet vibrating–not calm or truly still. Not the serenity of real patience.
de Chardin’s words console me. Perhaps real patience is in as short a supply in the rest of the world as it is within me. I do try to avoid the fallacy that I am so unique, so particular, that my experiences are specific exclusively to me…these words confirm that truth here.
His words drive right to the heart of living within my “Old Man Kangaroo” prayer, too. Different, however wonderful it may end up, is in the meantime going to bring the anxiety of being in suspense, and certainly of being incomplete. Perhaps repeating to myself how I am giving the Holy Three-In-One the benefit of believing their hand leads me is an acceptable alternative to actual serene patience. Perhaps I am the toddler, and they are the one thoughtfully waiting.
*True, there remains the nuclear option to “pick up.” But nuclear = lots of nasty fallout, so use advisedly.)