By Sister Ann Carmen Barone, OSF
Have you ever felt like you were caught in slow motion while everything around you was speeding along? Take another real look and you’ll notice that’s not true. We Americans love rushing here and there and then end up stopping at a red light, waiting in the cash register line, waiting to get into the theater, or pacing until a meeting starts. We are almost programmed like traffic lights – plenty of stops and goes, but often too little caution.
A sprained ankle has given me some time to contemplate the virtue of patience. Schedules changed. I had to depend on others to help me in so many ways. They were gracious and patient. I was not.
Patience seems to be a virtue that is often neglected in our fast-paced society. Everything in nature is part of a process that unfolds over time. Rushing that process skips essential pieces and builds on a shaky foundation.
I remember my early days back in Sylvania. While walking the road behind Rosary Care Center I noticed several newly planted blue spruces. I watched them grow and then one summer I noticed they had stopped. In fact, they seemed to be “stuck in time” for several years and finally they shot up a good four feet. Perhaps they were reminding me that I had gotten “stuck in time.” I could be patient and wait for new things to grow in my spirit. Yes, I could be patient not only with all things but with myself. The trees continued to grow and stretch and encouraged me to do the same.
Michelangelo defines genius as eternal patience. I think of him taking four years to paint the Sistine Chapel when he would much rather have been sculpting. Popes are chosen in that chapel. Millions of people look up in awe at that ceiling. They feel the power of two hands outstretched - God giving life to Adam. They marvel at Michelangelo’s genius. I give thanks for his patience. Then I go searching so I can stand in awe before his magnificent sculpture of Moses and the Pieta.
Francis of Assisi praises God who is love and charity, wisdom, humility and patience. He tells us that where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor disturbance. Where there is patience there is peace – a peace beyond understanding. So with Francis whose Canticle sang of God being praised through all creatures, let us adopt the pace of nature whose secret is patience. Let’s not skip the essentials pieces and peace that lets life unfold with patience and grace.