“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
I looked at my watch for the umpteenth time, hoping to hurry the train to the station. But the train was having none of my impatience. It lumbered slowly from its last stop to where I was waiting.
“Why the rush?” God asked me.
“I’m not in a rush,” I said, not wanting to talk. I had things on my mind.
“Clock time isn’t my time, you know,” God said. “You created that to measure units of your life. An hour here. A day there. You rush about trying to make things happen in those units, instead of living in the fullness of time.”
“What’s the fullness of time?” I asked.
“It is where you are patient,” God explained. “Patience allows you to enter the truth of life: the pain, confusion, sorrow, or joy. Impatience, on the other hand, is about getting away from things that are uncomfortable. You can’t embrace someone else’s pain if you can’t stay to feel your own. Patience is what allows you to be united with others in compassion. In that unity, you experience my grace.”
My train arrived and I boarded. I sat at a window seat and watched the scenery pass by as we pulled away from the station. I realized that time wasn’t like the scenery. It wasn’t rushing by me. It was standing still, right here with me. I could practice patience. I could stay with that which is uncomfortable inside of myself so that I could be with others in their pain.
I took off my watch and put it into my purse so that I wasn’t tempted to measure my life by clock time, but instead, measure it by the fullness of time—God’s grace.
I sprang out of bed like I’d been shot from a cannon. All at once I was in motion, buttoning my shirt, putting on my coat, and hopping down the hall on one foot as I tried to slip on my shoes. There were things I had to do today. Important things. I needed to get to them.
“Sparrow, where are you going in such a hurry?” God asked as I bolted out of the door.
“I’ve got so much to do today, God,” I answered a bit breathless.
“But you’re missing out on the fullness of your life by rushing to get to the future,” God said.
“I know, but I don’t have the time today,” I argued. “I can’t wait around.”
“You have all the time that I’ve given you,” God insisted. “Slow down. Patience isn’t about passively waiting for something to happen. Patience is about being here now, fully present to what is.”
I pondered His words. “You’re right. I’m living as if what I need to do in the future is more important than my life at this moment,” I said.
“Take a look around you, Enjoy the gifts I’ve given you today,” God said. I stopped walking. I stood and saw the birds at the feeder. I heard the sound of the wind through the trees. I smelled the lingering woodsmoke from last night’s fire.
“That’s better,” God said, and He put His arms around me and gave me a gentle hug—which I’d have missed had I not practiced some patience.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
Winter storms have kept me from tending to my garden. The ground is saturated with rain. I went out after work, with only a few minutes of light remaining in the day and turned over the soggy earth. Each shovelful was as heavy as my heart, for many plants had died from too much water.
I looked over the garden and was struck by the determination of life. Here, in the depths of winter, one storm after another, the flowers have patiently waited for this sunny day. I spied a Mask Flower peeking out from behind an overgrowth of Nasturtiums. The red blossoms looked so cheerful in the fading light that I couldn’t help but smile. I turned to walk back inside when God rested His hand on my shoulder. I stopped. “What is it, God?” I asked.
He whispered. “Everything’s going to be alright.” A Finch at the feeder burst into song as if to punctuate God’s sentence.
I nodded, not wanting to speak. I wanted only the Finch’s voice to be heard. I climbed the steps into the house and closed the door on another fine day, another great gift from God. I took the lesson from my garden to heart. I will be more patient in the face of adversity. I will be as cheerful as the red blossoms, as joyful as the singing Finch. I won’t lose hope in the storms.