Friday, December 12, 2008

Patience…

One of the classical themes of Advent is patience, the virtue ascribed to Mary and urged by the prophets upon Israel. But patience comes to me as easily as vegetarianism to a lion. From the looks of our lives, I seem to have abundant company. We are all busy, laboring diligently, noisily, impatiently to usher in a new and presumably improved life on earth. . . .

Among the derivations of the word "patience" is the Latin word paene, "almost." There is an "almost" quality to patience that bears attention, precisely because it challenges our drive to achieve perfection, fulfillment. Learning to live with the "almost." That doesn't come easily. . . .

Struggling to achieve what we believe to be true and noble, locked in combat against time and decay, we rush to accomplish all things and savor few. Yet in Advent we are called to sit quietly in the dark and peer into deepest night, abiding in the almost, looking for the light. But it does not come easily, and we do not usually go there willingly. It usually comes by force of sheer exhaustion, when energy is gone, no option remaining.

When I survey the greatest gifts of my life, I must admit they were not found in the busy rush of accomplishment. The greatest gifts, like the call to serve as a priest, the wonderful people with whom I have shared life and ministry, the profound love freely offered by others - these all came quietly, in the almost. Exhaustive activity, insistence on my own will and accomplishment, these have been barriers between me and the God who loves me, the people in whom God loves me. The gifts have come unbidden, in the darkness, sitting sometimes alone, sometimes with others, in the almost, searching the void for a sliver of light, a glimpse of the whole - closer to God, and one another, when we are sharing a vision than when we are fighting for one.

From Daysprings: Meditations for the Weekdays of Advent, Lent, and Easter by Sam Portaro (Cambridge, Mass.: Cowley Publications, 2001).

With thanks to Vicki K Black

7 comments:

  1. This hit home:

    "Exhaustive activity, insistence on my own will and accomplishment, these have been barriers between me and the God who loves me, the people in whom God loves me. "

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  2. Struggling to achieve what we believe to be true and noble, locked in combat against time and decay, we rush to accomplish all things and savor few. Yet in Advent we are called to sit quietly in the dark and peer into deepest night, abiding in the almost, looking for the light. But it does not come easily, and we do not usually go there willingly. It usually comes by force of sheer exhaustion, when energy is gone, no option remaining.

    Those words burn in me. How true that "abiding in the almost... does not come easily, and we do not usually go there willingly." I tend to think those are the times when we are being shaken to an awareness we have previously ignored. Maybe THIS rocky pillow IS the gate of heaven. Ponder time...

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  3. Hoo boy, did I need this today.

    Thank you, my brother.

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  4. This passage obviously strikes you people as strongly as it strikes me. I'm reminded of Fr. Thomas Hopko’s aphorism: "It is impossible to know God - but you have to know Him to know that", which Father Stephen mentioned recently. This Advent seems to be a time of negatives, but in a good, true sense: "not this, not that." I sometimes think that it's only in our tiredness and confusion, with "no option remaining" that we can begin to wait with little enough of ourselves to perceive the beginnings of the light - or more accurately, at least to wait in the direction from which the light is to come...

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  5. I may just have to use this in my 4th Sunday of Advent sermon somehow... (Not preaching this weekend - just enjoying Gaudete Sunday!)

    Thank you again. This does speak deeply to many of us this year.

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  6. Thank you for the link, Jane, good sister, and for that beautiful picture, which now adorns my desktop!

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  7. I struggled scrolling down through 6 comments to get to this little com box! Patience! It is hard for me, too. BUT, I do believe it's getting better, the more I take time in my day to be "still" and to be silent, in the wee hours of the morning, in my car WITHOUT radio or c.d. Just praying the rosary back and forth, listening to Our Lady comfort me, telling me to "pause" and find some solitude is so helpful. I took a 2 day private retreat last weekend, and HIGHLY recommend that to anyone during Advent. PREPARE for our Lord, the Baby Jesus, who's looking for that "room" in our hearts. I consecrate myself to Mary ALMOST everyday, which is also a big help and one day, it will be every day I pray for next to her Immaculate Heart is Peace where we learn patience from Our Lady of Patience, humility. ~ A handmaid of the handmaid of the handmaid of the handmaid of the Lord~ Peace to all

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