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Practice Patience

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” The title of a poem, written in 1836, by Ralph Waldo Emerson is printed on a small flip chart entitled Bright Sayings, a collection of quotes, Bible verses, and inspirational thoughts.  Every year, I read Emerson’s words on March 31st and this year those words struck me hard, to my core.

            Even now, writing this poem title, I take a deep breath.  Patience, as defined in the dictionary, is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.  My patience has been stretched during this pandemic.  I’m ready to get on with my normal life: attend church and club meetings, go to monthly hair appointments, eat lunch with friends, take Grands on field trips around town, visit friends, and all the other many things that filled my calendar.

            By nature, I’m not a patient person.  I keep a book to read in my van because I might have to wait somewhere for 10 minutes, and I’ve fallen into the habit of looking at my phone for entertainment to fill even a few moments of idleness.  Last week, I purposely practiced patience. As I sat in the public library parking lot waiting for a library employee to bring me the books I’d requested online, I didn’t reach for my book or phone.  I watched branches sway in tall trees and saw a few people walk in Dogwood Park, at safe distances from each other.

            I’ve practiced patience as a teacher, parent, and grandparent when children learn new skills or complete a task.  A teacher’s greatest pay is when a student reaches that ‘Ah, ha moment’ of understanding or mastery.  I’ve said, “Push your patience button,” to encourage students, who were loud and wiggly, to be calm while standing in line. Recently, when my five-year-old Grand searched for a jigsaw puzzle piece to complete the border of a 100-piece puzzle, I sat on my hands to avoid pointing to the needed piece.  

            Every day there are times that I need to be patient. But, maybe like some of you, I struggle to wait, to accept, to be tolerate for the easing of restrictions, for face-to-face contact with family and friends.  I tell myself if I had a snotty cold or the flu, I’d keep my distance, and now I could carry the COVID19 virus, but not show symptoms.  I don’t want to make anyone sick.

            Emerson’s eight-stanza poem describes the changes of seasons, and I know from experience that each season unfolds in order. Emerson writes, “All this is provided at a sure and steady pace. Nature is perfect, there’s never a need to race.” 

            Often as I wait, I know the sure and steady pace.  With this virus, I don’t.  Is that why being patient is so difficult?  I’m determined to practice patience. To limit close face-to-face contact with other people.

            Emerson begins his poem with these words: “Walking in Mother Nature, God’s natural kingdom with awareness, will bring you insightful wisdom.”  Seems like good advice as I wait.