Being patient is many times extremely difficult. Patience takes courage; patience is not waiting for something to happen or waiting or someone else to do something. Patience is living for today, to be completely present in what we are doing in the present time; this means forgetting what was done or needs to be done. To enjoy live, we must taste life, not just let it fly by.
On April 1st, I awoke to the realization that I would teach my last class on the 30th. I could not wait; I was anxious for the month to pass a quickly as possible. I completely forgot that the next four weeks would be the last weeks of a 24-year teaching career, that on May 1st, I would no longer be guiding immature voices in their writing. Don’t get me wrong; I am happy not to be facing the grading of 40 essays a week. I may not miss that aspect; but I will miss the students. So, I tried to savor every minute I had left with them. In my life outside of teaching, my anxiety to retire began to disrupt other enjoyable things.
Perhaps the reason we cannot exercise patience is because we live anxious lives. Sometimes we live fantasy lives. We get so uptight about what is occurring outside our immediate domain that our everyday lives get upset. For instance, I can do nothing about what is happening in our government. I attend meetings and I vote, but other than running for office myself, there is little I can do. This upsets me, but I refuse to let it govern my life. I am unhappy with what is going on, but, I must live my life. And right now, my life is centered on what I will do now that I retire. I have many options and I am taking my time to decide. I am in no hurry; hurrying will only make me tense, and I will lose patience with all other aspects and the people I meet.
Truly, there are times I feel that I am living in darkness, total darkness, and this does make me anxious, and I lose patience. It is at times such as these that I stop what I am doing, meditate, and try to let the anxiety pass. I know that the light will return to me. Maybe what I am trying to say is that I am doing my best to be a truly present human, living for the moment. I don’t ignore the past or future, but today is so important.
When I look to God, I pray that God looks at me. This belief, this trust, helps me settle my anxieties so that I can live for today, practicing patience, patience with all whom I meet. I cherish the special relationships I have created in my life. When I was an independent retailer, I made many close friends, those who worked with me and those who shared downtown Summit, NJ. When I taught at New Providence High School, I also made many friends, from my peers to my students who are now dear friends. And, finally, those professors and students I worked with at Germanna community College; these most recent friends are also people I cherish. I pray that my patience with those I meet add to these deep friendships.
I also like to spend time watching the birds and squirrels feeding at the feeders Linda has placed in our yards. Now that spring has arrived, I am loving the time I can observe God’s nature at work. This is important time for me, but not nearly as important as the friendships I have made in my life. I believe that these friendships have only come about through our mutual patience with each other. I cherish these.
Every day and every hour, let’s walk with patience in our hearts. We’ve tried the other way, and failed; maybe it’s time to try something different.