Stillness Teaches Us Patience
When we practice listening to sacred stillness, the stillness teaches us patience.
Many of us do not particularly appreciate the opportunities waiting gives us. We often think of patience as more of a weakness than a strength.
Our culture tells us it is reasonable to expect immediate gratification. We surround ourselves with increasingly complex technology and become impatient when it does not work perfectly.
More and more our lives are built around the idea of getting more of exactly what we want whenever we want it. We have machines which push us toward whatever we desire. They respond to the sound of our voices and recognize the features of our faces.
My phone knows me. It offers me things to do and apps to examine from the moment I open my eyes in the morning. I have no need to learn patience because there are distractions and entertainments at my fingertips.
When we close our eyes, breathe deeply, and listen to sacred stillness, only then, stillness teaches us patience.
Many of us are challenged when we try to begin a practice of listening to sacred stillness. As we start to listen we are reminded of all the things which we think need to be done. We have emails and texts which need to be read and to which we need to respond. There are calls we need to make and return.
Each of us faces our own challenges and disruptions.
There are answers we need to seek, tasks we need to complete, responsibilities we need to meet. None of those things are wrong or wasteful in themselves. None of them, though, teaches us patience.
Listening to sacred stillness teaches us patience as we practice. We commit ourselves to spending time listening and stillness teaches us how to be patience.
How Stillness Teaches Us Patience
It is a challenge to be patient.
Most of us do not know how to wait patiently, and put our energy into the avoidance of learning how to wait. We are taught the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and we want to get as much grease as we can as quickly as possible.
The idea of needing to wait patiently seems to bring out the worst in us.
Waiting feeds our anxieties and insecurities. What if the waiting never ends and we never receive the object of our waiting? Is there more we can do to make sure we reach the end sooner?
One of the things we like least about waiting is it is a tangible demonstration things are beyond our control. We cannot know everything, do everything, make everything right, cannot prepare for every eventuality.
Patience demands trust.
Each of our contemplative practices teaches us patience.
As we practice listening to sacred stillness we begin to experience what it means to let go of our fears. We take a few moments to sit and wait in stillness. There is no need for us to present long wish lists to God, to remind God again and again what we need or desire.
We begin to understand when we wait in stillness we are are starting to trust. It is not important for everyone else to know we are waiting or for how long we have already waited.
Even our own waiting in stillness is not something we control. As we wait the stillness grows and becomes stronger within us. We wait in stillness and share our stillness with the people around us.
Our conscious decision to wait in stillness increases the amount of stillness in the world.
Listening to stillness teaches us patience.
When Stillness Teaches Us Patience
Some of us are impatient because we view any time we spend waiting as wasted time.
We like to believe we fill our lives with meaningful relationships and ideas, projects and responsibilities. It is difficult for us to be patient because we have so many significant and fulfilling things to do. We cannot afford to take time to be patient because what we do is so important.
I am gradually, slowly realizing how much practicing patience helps me. Over time stillness teaches us patience is not only something nice we do for other people. Patience is how I take time to be open and receptive to the spiritual life in the world.
I am starting to appreciate some of my best insights and questions arrive while I am patienty waiting for something else. As I pay attention to each present moment I can see and hear deeper truths.
Listening to sacred stillness teaches us patience all the time, not only while we practice listening.
Patience is the practice of paying attention, not being caught up in the distractions or entertainments. We take time to listen well and we learn to wait patiently.
As Stillness Teaches Us Patience This Year
This is a difficult year for all of us. Even if we do not realize it ourselves, our entire planet and everyone on it is experiencing serious stresses and strains.
It is a year when, even more than usually, we need to learn patience and put it into practice. Contemplative practices, including listening to sacred stillness, have a great deal to teach us.
We take time to free ourselves from the everyday pressure of distractions and entertainments. Sitting still, we close our eyes, breathe deeply, and begin listening to sacred stillness within us and all around us. As we let go of the concerns which interrupt us we become aware again of the stillness in which we live.
It takes us time and regular practice. We cannot expect to experience being more patient right away. Our practices show us we need to be patient even with ourselves.
Listening to sacred stillness teaches us patience.
Each day we practice, each time we sit still and listen, is a new opportunity to explore the powers of patience.
What teaches us patience as we listen to sacred stillness this year?
How will we discover when stillness teaches us patience this week?
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Greg Richardson is a spiritual director in Southern California. He has served as an assistant district attorney, an associate university professor, and is a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.