“Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.” James 5:7-8
Given that patience has been my watchword for nearly a year, you’d think I’ve have something to say about it by now. Even more so given that I appear poised to write about it and share it here with you. While I’ve been trying my best to practice it, I find that I’ve got more questions than insight, and precious little to show for my efforts.
I know with all my heart and from much experience that some of the most important things in life take time. More so for me than many. Eighteen years ago, I moved into an exciting ministry with people I really enjoyed, and even in those fertile circumstances, it took me 2 to 3 years to feel centered, strong and joyful. This move has been away from much that is familiar: family and friends, church and work, geography and cultural mindset. I moved far enough that were I to stand at the ocean, I could no longer see the sunrise, but would now watch it set at day’s end. I made the move for clear and good reasons: to build a new life with an old love, to seek healing and rest for my soul, and to prepare a canvas on which a new phase could come into view. I knew it would take time: a lot of it.
When well meaning and deeply supportive friends have asked, are you happy yet?, I’ve tried to be patient with them as well as my own soul, and say simply, not yet, but I’m working on it. The challenge in all of this is figuring out what working on it looks like. I’d like to say I’ve developed some wonderfully disciplined practices of reading and prayer, but that hasn’t really come together. I continue to read mysteries and other brain candy, but not at the rate I often have, and more during nights of sleeplessness than in daylight hours. Given the lack of deadlines and a waiting audience, words have played hard to get and writing has been minimal. I’ve walked a lot in the neighborhood and enjoyed the discoveries in watching trees, deer and the sun cycle through the seasons. One by one, I’ve picked up familiar passions and put them to work. “Simple Gifts Foods” was born in summer Fridays of baking bread, cinnamon rolls, granola and muffins, and then transported to Saturdays’ Harrison Grange Market. My voice was accepted into the North Idaho College Chamber Singers, and a nearby neighbor joined with me in creating a writing group. Church questions continue to be the most puzzling. I had an invitation to provide pulpit supply, and then another, and yet another. When the pastor moved on, three of us formed a team to rotate through summer and fall Sundays. Now the question before me is if I will make it more regular and real. I’ve said I’ll give it a try, but even as I do I wonder if this is a call that still brings color and joy to my life, or a remnant of the past I’ve yet to leave behind. Am I filling a hole because it’s easier than leaving it open and waiting, or is this a step that will help create the framework of this new life? How new will this new life look, and how do I know where to step on the road to getting there?
I’ve long been an advocate of Rilke’s wisdom: “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” Passing the words along to others and mounting them on my wall are easier than living them, but I’m trying. I know that hindsight is often clearer than current-sight, but I’d rather not spend my life looking back over my shoulder to get a read on how it’s going. For now I watch and wait, doing my best to just let it be, doing what I know how to do, trusting my instincts and the guidance of those I love to recognize potential along the way. My prayer is that I’ll be alert to God sightings and new life buddings as they begin to emerge.