Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


Patience: a kinder rhythm for the journey

A Blue Sky Comes Out from Hiding 320

A Blue Sky Comes Out from Hiding. Photo / Kathy Gilman

Since I can count on one hand the teachers who didn’t have to ask me to stop talking in class, it follows that I’m someone who fills multiple journals, year after year, until they take over some pretty serious real estate in our house.

In the past week of reading my gangly, often indecipherable handwriting in some of those pages, I’ve identified the attribute I long to welcome into the coming year like a much-loved and eagerly anticipated guest: Patience.

I want to hear myself say, “That’s all right, I can wait,” more often, and really mean it. Because I know that if I can manage to do this, consciously, and willingly, I’ll also be making a lot more room for trust. And faith.

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A Carpeted Fell. Photo / Kathy Gilman

I want to help myself remember that when I welcome patience, allow for it, I tend to react to fewer stressors and potential irritants. Eventually, many of them stop hitting my inner radar screen at all.

Reading years’ worth of journal pages brings home the truth of something writer Zora Neale Hurston said:

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”

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A Well-Ordered Land. Photo / Kathy Gilman

Patience also seems to require a quiet, steady belief that things will turn out as they need to. This is a powerful contradiction to the less-helpful directions in which most expectations, spun from my mind’s baser qualities, tend to take me.

Castle Rigg with view of Hellvelyn Fell - Keswick 225

Castle Rigg with view of Hellvelyn Fell and stone circle, Keswick. Photo / Kathy Gilman

Reading those journal entries, which traveled through so many different sorts of peaks and valleys, also highlighted for me the truth of words of John O’Donohue:

“The soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey.”

A blessed New Year to each and every fellow journeyer on the path.

And a special thank you to Kathy Gilman for these photographs from the fells of northern England where my mother grew up. It was on long walks in settings just like these where Kathy is hiking now that I first learned about the beauty of patience, trust, and faith.