Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. —James 5:7–8
Patience can be in short supply at this time of year, when everyone is too busy. Technology has speeded up our lives to the point that we notice when our internet connection is sluggish or the person in front of us in the grocery checkout has too many coupons. We don’t even know why we’re in such a hurry. We’ve begun to value speed for its own sake. And yet the things that really matter in life still take time and patience.
We can’t speed up the growth of plants or animals or babies. We can’t speed up the time time it takes for healing, whether it’s our bodies or our spirits. And all of these things are well worth the wait. Instead of hurrying, we need to find ways to nurture ourselves and one another during the waiting time. The refrain of Advent is “The Lord is near.” Sometimes it’s hard to believe this. We don’t get the answers we want when we pray, or at least we don’t get them immediately. This season can help us wrestle with the waiting time. While we wait for the perfection of the world in the second coming of Christ, we have the mystery of the Incarnation to guide us in making our world a little more ready. We can appreciate the small signs along the way to that perfect time and place.
TAKE A DEEP BREATH
People of earlier generations were far more aware of the slow growth of nature. We can learn a valuable lesson in patience from observing the small signs of growth. Take a walk today and notice not the bare branches of the trees but the terminal buds that signal next spring’s leaves. For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations. (Isaiah 61:11)
A SIMPLE GIFT
Take time to notice. A friend mentioned a species of lily that has no leaves. I mentioned that it was unfamiliar to me. Until I was pulling into my driveway later that day and saw a bed of the very same lilies in my neighbor’s garden. A couple days later, I saw the same flowers in two other yards on my street. All it takes is a little attention.