I’m not sure why I decided to write about patience this week. It may be that a lot of patience seems to be required these days. But why?
You may have heard it said that “Patience is a virtue.” True, I suppose, especially when you see it grouped with what the Christian tradition sees as the Seven Capital Virtues (chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness and humility) as opposed to, or remedies for, the better-known Seven Deadly Sins.
An aside here: When I was working at Starbucks I would bring in a daily trivia question – get it right, and you get 25 cents off on your drink. (It was a way to deal with the long lines.) My favorite was to ask customers to name the Seven Deadly Sins. Few got them all right, but almost everyone mentioned lust. Whatever ones they named, I’d comment that the those are the ones they are currently dealing with. They did a bit better naming The Seven Dwarfs.
Anyway, I’m wondering about why Patience made the top seven. It seems rather passive to be a virtue, don’t you think? The word does not mean patiently working to solve a problem or achieve a goal, because “Diligence,” also on the list, covers that sort of thing. It’s more like “patiently waiting” for a desired outcome, a practice that occasionally works for me, but not very often. And Sloth is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. How is Sloth different from Patience? If I am waiting for the snow to melt rather than going out to shovel it off the driveway, am I practicing Patience or Sloth? Hard to tell from where you are sitting.
Perhaps patience is not a practice that you can observe, but rather an internal state of mind. You know when you are experiencing something that feels like Patience, even though an outside observer might conclude that it’s my Sloth. I can feel it when I am being patient, especially when the alternative is doing something stupid-in-a-hurry. I like the saying, “I can be patient, but not for very long.”
“Patience” is also a name sometimes given to girls. I’ve never known a Patience, but I imagine that a male, probably the father, thought it would be a good idea to emphasize this quality in a female. Some men want their women to be Patient, I suppose. I’ve never known a girl named “Lust,” though I think I met a Chastity or two.
So, you are probably (not really) wondering when I actually practice Patience. Not many examples come to mind, but here are a few:
· Waiting on hold. I am usually able to amuse myself while waiting, if the hold music isn’t too bad, but I do manage to congratulate myself for being patient. My patience evaporates, however, when the call is dropped after my long wait.
· Waiting for our condo purchase to be approved. Still has not happened. We tried to deal with the delay by impatiently buying a lot of stuff for the new condo, which provided some distracting amusement but did not move the process along. We have now run out of patience and withdrawn our offer. But the real issue is not impatience/patience, but rather some red flags about the whole process. Stay tuned. And be patient.
I could probably come up with some more examples, but a voice in my head says to stop sitting around waiting for examples to come to me. It’s annoying to wait, and I should be doing something else.