I have been thinking a lot about patience this year. Perhaps you have too, as we have had to adjust to life in repeated lockdowns and ongoing social distancing. Patience may feel like a skill we are challenged to develop, or a kind of self-imposed control. Yet perhaps it is deeper and more natural than these.
Nature is masterful at both practicing and teaching patience. The pandemic – both in its cause of which we are a part, and in its solution to which we are being summoned – is a perfect example of Nature calling us to live with patience. We may think we need to wrestle and toil to learn patience. But it comes more through a quiet unveiling than through willful mustering.
Patience is like the way our eyes adjust to a dark room.
We need to allow our perception of control to shift. We have a tendency to perceive the moment as inherently wrong somehow, as though we must fight or control it. Patience is a gentle yet immensely powerful letting go of that perception. This past year has been humbling proof of how little control we have over anything—other than the way we perceive and choose to respond to a given situation.
Just as we don’t question when night comes after day, we don’t think twice about taking a moment’s pause when we walk into a dark room so that our eyes may adjust. It is instinctual. Entering into darkness, our body intuitively stills as our pupils dilate to take in whatever light may be present. Our mind slows down, and our senses broaden. We are at once more relaxed and more alert. We do this in order to move safely and wisely from here. Patience is like this.
Everything in Nature is patient.
When we look to Nature, we understand that a seed planted in the fall is not impatient for spring. It accepts its surroundings and draws nourishment for growth exactly where it is. Animals in hibernation do not fret in their sleep. Creatures that migrate north in the summer and south in the winter are not discontent with one location, while longing for another. They have settled into their place, in surrender to the changing seasons. Everything has its place and its time. In tune with Nature’s guiding rhythms, the organic world patiently and majestically evolves. Each element plays its part, balanced within the whole. We can experience greater peace and wellbeing, personally and globally, when we harmonize with this wisdom.
Patience is the way out of our inner lockdown.
We want to be free from the pandemic, but perhaps first we need to approach it, others and ourselves differently. When we become still for a moment, we humbly see that we cannot be free from anything when we resist it. Basic physics shows us that every action has an opposite reaction. When we push at or run from things we don’t like, they tend to follow us until we inwardly make peace with them. If we are gently honest with ourselves, we may see how we have been living in another kind of lockdown for far longer – in doubt, fear, and the antagonistic perception that the moment itself is happening “to” us. Has this not taken us out of the flow of life, unable to truly connect with others since well before we first heard the words “social distancing”?
There are two keys that unlock feelings of imprisonment.
They are trust in a meaning beyond what we can see and surrender to a power beyond ourselves. Without this trust and surrender, our “patience” is really just white-knuckling and control. With them, we experience renewal, inner richness and even rebirth.
Patience continues to teach us that we never know when a flower will bloom. But the timing of its unfolding will always be perfect and its presence a true joy. We do not know when we will find social equilibrium in our day-to-day lives and once again be able to go to the local store, be among strangers or hug a dear one without risk of disease. In these challenging times, may we each lay down our restlessness and open to the patience that is waiting for us now.
The present is the present.
As we come to the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and move through various spiritual traditions that celebrate the return of light, consider this: who we are and the lives we currently have are like presents ready to be opened. With childlike wonder, we have the chance to see that beneath external wrapping, the cherished is just beyond our habitual ways of seeing. Without any change in our external circumstance, we each have the power through patience to open to the gift of re-harmonizing with the world, and learn to love ourselves and our neighbours, including the animal and plant kingdoms. We can find the lasting connection we have been longing for all year, and perhaps longer.
Whenever we wish to savour a precious moment with delight, we slow down so that we bring keen alertness and true attention to our every action. Through this care, a luminous, spiritual patience is born in us. We open to the present with innocence and awe to find a light right here, right now. It has been with us all along. We simply did not see it in our busy lives.
Your true nature is peace.
In the spirit of patience, I don’t know when my next post will come. I feel that there are changes arising in what I offer here, though I am not sure what that will look like. Next week, I would like to recap what we have explored in “Finding Your Inner Peace Sanctuary”. Then, after that, we shall see what the following chapters bring.
Wishing you a soulful holiday, full of change, growth and peace, oh, the deep, deep peace that you eternally are.
From my heart to yours,
PS: Please check out this beautiful book called Sprout, written and illustrated by my friend Michelle Crispe. A wonderful last-minute ebook gift (also available in physical form after Christmas) for children and the young at heart, Sprout tells a touching story of growth and courage. I am very grateful to Michelle and all those who support the book, as she has dedicated a portion of proceeds to the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary (MAPS).