Marian stood three-deep at checkout. The elderly man in front of her had relatively few items. She would get through quickly.
He soon moved forward and so did she. At the counter he asked a question and the clerk looked puzzled.
Uh-oh, Marian thought. The clerk waved to the manager, who wasn’t looking her way, waited, then waved again. The manager seemed annoyed but solved the clerk’s problem quickly.
Marian relaxed. As the clerk scanned the man’s items, he dug into his pocket and pulled out a fistful of coupons and began his hunt.
"Oh, no." Marian said to herself. What seemed 30 minutes later – it was barely three or so – her patience ran out – and so did she, placing her few items on a nearby shelf.
"God, give me patience, right now!" is a prayer that to Marian would seem more serious than comic. Obviously she had other places to be at that moment and what she lacked in patience worked against her. She was simply too busy living ahead of herself.
Patience finds its meaning – and its virtue – in the moment. It is all about acceptance of what is going on here and now.
Clocks, people, traffic jams all have their own reality. Every stoplight is on a timer, just like every sunrise and sunset. Patience helps one realize that as they choose to embrace the moment. Sadly, many do not have the time, or think to do so. For them, as for Marian, patience usually pops like a wayward soap bubble.
Patience is all about what is while what one wants or wishes is everyone’s workplace for learning and embracing the virtue. Those seeking patience need to understand that simple truth. Those without patience have learned somehow that not "everything comes to those who wait" and respond accordingly.
True patience is far from passive. Drumming fingers and twiddling thumbs are the language of impatience, like sighs and throat-clearing and clock-watching. The virtue is all about being; it is more an attitude of accepting the human dimension of time, events and people. Patience is the patching fix for creation’s imperfections. Anyone who knows and practices patience usually can find an inner peace in life’s uncertainties.
But even the most patient among us, the biblical Jobs of every generation, can find themselves, like Marian, in a place where life is just not happening their way. But no where else can one learn the lessons of the virtue that knows and teaches that each moment is the only piece of time in which we truly live. Be patient with – and in – them.