Have you ever accomplished or created something significant in a short period of time? While there are exceptions to everything, I would guess that most of us would answer this question negatively. It takes time and patience to create a life of meaning. It takes time and patience to create a trusting, caring friendship, marriage, or family. It takes time and patience to create a new initiative in your community. It takes time and patience to create a spiritual life. It takes time and patience to create meaningful work. It takes time and patience to create physical wellness. It takes time and patience to create a life of giving and service to others.
No one would ever confuse me with a person who is good at practicing patience, but as I get older, I am working on it. It takes time to learn the practice of patience! Too often I want to see immediate fruit from some effort I am making, whether it be getting in better shape, strengthening a relationship in my life, or starting a new project in my work. Even in my prayer life I can find myself acting like a line from an old joke: “Lord, please give me patience, and please give it to me now!”
Patience is in short supply in our world. People want what the want and they want it yesterday. In our LIving Compass Wellness groups we see that patience is often the biggest challenge for participants. As participants in these groups seek to make small changes to strengthen one area of wellness in their lives, they often report that the biggest challenge is staying committed to the changes if they do not see immediate results. To make any significant change in our lives takes commitment, discipline, perseverance, and patience. Of these four, patience is often the hardest for people to practice.
One place we can turn to better learn the practice of patience is nature. The rhythms of nature unfold at their own pace. A tree buds and flowers blossom in their own time. They cannot be rushed. Eggs are laid and young are hatched in their own time, following patient rhythms of nature. Along the east coast of the United States, from North Carolina to Connecticut, we are witnessing an amazing and unique example of the patient rhythms of nature in watching the unfolding of what is known as “Brood II.” Brood II is the term used to describe the return of a particular group of 17 year cicadas. Some 30 billion cicadas that were born in 1996 and have been living underground since they were born, are just now emerging as the temperature of the soil reaches 64 degrees. They will live for a short time with the primary goal of reproducing. Their offspring will then burrow into the earth and like their parents, emerge 17 years from now in the year 2030. Could there be a better lesson right now about patience?
One of the most beautiful writings about love was written 2000 years ago in Saint Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. It is worth noting here that in Paul’s description of the many attributes of love, the first one he lists is patience. Love, like everything else worthwhile in life, takes time. The fruit of mature, abiding love takes time to be fully realized. May the cicadas remind us that love, along with all good things in life, require patience and time–sometimes as long as 17 years.