Saturday, June 29, 2013
Guest Blog: Dr. Margaret Stortz "On More Patience"
In my last book, Essays on Everything, I wrote on Patience. I’m writing on it again. I’m haven’t made enough ground; I’m not at the still place I want to be, at least not often enough, and I’m still making spaces for my own thoughts to come to me. There is no doubt in my mind that patience is not a natural, soul quality. It must be learned and practiced over time, more so these days perhaps because there is so much information that clamors for our attention. It is easy to pull out the iPhone and be inundated by the world at our doorsteps, and perhaps we have really come to like this, to never be shut off from news, messages, entertainment…and irritation.
The Irritated Mind
The irritated mind cannot partake of the clarifying flow of patience; it does not think of one thing at a time and is always hurrying through an army of demands. If things are not occurring as we would wish, we are almost certain to be met with frustration, that quality of mind that fights with itself so that the mind takes to churning. No possibility for patience here. Irritation, frustration and patience simply cannot exist together in the same place at the same time. Let’s not fool ourselves either by thinking that if we do not respond to a frustrating situation, we are being patient. For lack of a better word, I call this “reactive impatience,” a silent appearance…perhaps well learned…that masks buried anger. Many of us just crush a rising inclination to boil into a response so that we can appear in control. It may indeed be some kind of control, but it is not patience. Real patience breeds health; the squelched response eventually breeds illness.
There really are just twenty four hours in a day. Are we pushing to fill them so full of stuff to do that we are grabbing for every breath? If we have come to this place, where the body can barely keep up, I think we’re in trouble. My sainted mother, farm girl that she was, kept a very simple perspective about the situations before her. If undue stress was piling up in her life, she would have another “think” about things. This was her way of backing off from a situation loaded with confusion and sometimes heat. People always felt better being around her because of her calm demeanor. She was not disconnected from what was going on; she was one step away from it mentally so that she could see more clearly what needed attention… and what did not.
The Opportunity to Take Another "Think"
I think patience is borne of the opportunity to take another “think” about what is in front of us. Mentally we can do this; we can vacate the swirl in our minds and have a space for relief. It is difficult, especially if we are wired for impatience and worry. I cannot always find the patch of grace I need to take another “think,” but I…and my patience…are still a work in progress.
You can read more from Dr. Margaret Stortz at her blog here:
You may also enjoy Dr. Edward Viljoen's guest post "A Fresh Look at Ancient Ideas"
You may also be interested in reading "Don't make that expression, your face will stay that way."