Years ago one of my nieces asked what patience was. I gave her a definition that has stuck with me to this day. “Patience means waiting without tapping your foot.” I’ve always been good at tapping my foot, drumming a rhythm, doing that familiar potty jig common to most toddlers learning the restraint of toilet training. Yes, I am good at not waiting, very good.
Most of us are familiar with goal-setting. We plot out our course and see the scope of our journey ahead from point A to Z, forgetting about all those other stepping stones, the 24 lovely letters that benchmark each turn along the way to our success. We think in terms of linear planning that looks much like this:
But as we trudge along, we soon discover that life is more like this:
Right now, I would say this is right about where I am in this leg of the journey:
I didn’t realize myself, however, how very, very sure I was that my plans would most definitely not be thwarted because they were, well, good plans, until the plan went haywire. My circumstances changed; the landscape changed; and there I was in the middle of what felt like someone else’s life, divorced at age 37 only to find myself by nearly 39 now with two kids, a cat, a dog, and . . . a boyfriend? Hold on. That was not the plan. Occasionally I would walk down the hall at work, having returned to the same place of employment I’d been before staying home with my children for 4 years, and wonder if it was 2005 again. I’d lament to myself that this was the NOT the plan.
When near the end of day, life has drained
Out of light, and it is too soon
For the mind of night to have darkened things,
No place looks like itself, loss of outline
Makes everything look strangely in-between,
Unsure of what has been, or what might come.
In this wan light, even trees seem groundless.
In a while it will be night, but nothing
Here seems to believe the relief of darkness.
You are in this time of the interim
Where everything seems withheld.
The path you took to get here has washed out;
The way forward is still concealed from you.
“The old is not old enough to have died away;
The new is still too young to be born.”
You cannot lay claim to anything;
In this place of dusk,
Your eyes are blurred;
And there is no mirror.
Everyone else has lost sight of your heart
And you can see nowhere to put your trust;
You know you have to make your own way through.
As far as you can, hold your confidence.
Do not allow confusion to squander
This call which is loosening
Your roots in false ground,
That you might come free
From all you have outgrown.
What is being transfigured here in your mind,
And it is difficult and slow to become new.
The more faithfully you can endure here,
The more refined your heart will become
For your arrival in the new dawn.