When I hear the word saint, the first image that comes to mind is not a Carmelite nun kneeling in a dark chapel and fingering her rosary. Well, I am sure that many Carmelites are saints, but they are not the first thing I think of.
The first image that comes to mind is a young mother in the mall parking lot trying to get three children – all under five – into her car seats. It reminds me of someone trying to put an octopus to bed. The woman has the first child strapped into its seat when the second starts screaming, “Cookie! Cookies! “The woman rummages in a shopping bag, tears open a box of biscuits and slides one on the child. Then she lifts him into his car seat. The first child starts screaming that it wants a biscuit too. She fishes for one Biscuit for him. Meanwhile, the baby, who is still in the stroller, starts to get angry, and after giving the first child a biscuit, the woman turns to the third, and then the second child begins, the first with her the cookie jar and the first one starts to cry. Even when the woman miraculously managed to get all three children into their child seats, she’s not finished yet Fold the stroller up, lift it backwards and get in the car herself. And when she gets home she has to reverse the whole process. Now that’s holiness!
It’s also tremendous patience – and patience is another gift from the Holy Ghost. The word patience is derived from the Latin verb passio, which means “to endure or to endure”. Patient people are those who can endure trials and pain with calm and equanimity. They are able to accept delays, wait for the right moment, and wait for their time.
Patient people are more flexible in terms of time than impatient people. Impatient people only exist in one time frame – their own. You’re comfortable with just one schedule – yours. They want things to be done when they want things to be done. And they expect the rest of the world to adjust to their schedule. If you want your child to be potty at twenty-four months and it’s not at twenty-six, you get angry. If you have to queue in the store while an elderly lady is having a short conversation with the cashier in front of you, you will be annoyed because this lady is disturbing her schedule.
Patient people, on the other hand, can flow back and forth between different time frames. For example, they know that potty training a child may require entering a different timeframe than their own. Waiting in line for a few extra moments while an elderly lady chats to a cashier invites patient people to put their own schedule aside for a moment. You step into another person’s schedule with compassion who is lonely and may have more time than they can start with.
Recently I imagined something creative and went for a walk with Patience. When I asked her, “What can I do to become more like you?” She thought for a moment, smiled warmly and said, “Plant an acorn. . . Make friends with a turtle. . . . Teach a child. “
How patient am i? Am I able to step out of my own time frame and enter someone else’s time frame with compassion? God of infinite patience, let me go with you today.
—Excerpt from Gracious Goodness by Melannie Svoboda, SND
Photo by Warunee at Morguefile.com.