submitted by the Rev. James Henderschedt
A number of years ago Bishop Fulton J. Sheen delivered a very interesting take on “patience.” “Patience,” he said “is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is “timing” it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.”
As I read the Gospels and how Matthew, Mark, Luke and John tell the story of Jesus I am often in awe at the patience exhibited by Jesus during his ministry. And it was all a matter of timing….waiting for the right time. Consider, for example, his patient love for his disciples. Slowly and carefully he led them to an understanding of what “Kingdom” life was like. Often they just didn’t get it. But, without exasperation, Jesus was willing go back, remind, lead, nudge his beloved toward a clear understanding of compassion and grace. And while he patiently taught he continued to reach out to those in need.
Since I retired some years ago I decided that I would like to pursue something that I always wanted to do…learn how to draw and paint. I found a good teacher who was willing to help me explore this desire. It was not long before I realized that when I found a subject I wanted to see quick results. I had to learn to wait…to be patient….to realize that the “awkward stage” of the painting when it looks like it really won’t amount to much is a part of the process. The completed project takes time…..and as that time unfolds the artist continues to draw or paint. Slowly the project takes shape until one comes to the moment when they can say, “Finished!” and sign the painting. It is all an exercise in patience.
So is ones’ spiritual quest. Like the disciples who took two steps forward and then three back, we are always in the process of discovery and mystery….a blending of the two. Our lives are lived in a patient process of spiritual growth and spiritual emptiness…but always striving forward. “Patience,” advised Bishop Sheen, “is timing” not to be rushed or approached by way of a short-cut, but steadily, and perseverance and patience.
Activity: Think about your spiritual quest. When did you feel you were making head-way? When did you feel as though you slipped back? Where and how has patience been your faithful companion on your pilgrimage.