The Patience of Trees
Margaret Swart of Fairbanks, AK, USA
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. -Colossians 2:6
I am surrounded by the ceaseless patience of trees. On a clear day, Denali, the highest mountain in North America, is etched on my southern horizon as I drive into town. One astonishing fact about Denali is it continues to grow by a measurable amount almost every year. The growth is not visually seen, but it is growth just the same.
There are so many testimonies in nature of the value of patience: the carving of canyons by rainfall flowing into rivers, the cycle of seasonal adaptation by earth’s flora, and the instinct inherent in salmon to return to fresh water spawning streams are examples of intentional patience. They are an affirmation of the patient love of our Creator.
Jesus lived a brief human life to reveal the ways of God’s pure love. Then he left us to follow his teachings or stumble down our own path denying his outstretched hand. But he never withdraws that hand. He never ceases to offer his love, his guidance, his comfort, his strength in the circumstances of our lives. His patience is as dependable as the sunrise we can’t see on a rainy day.
I have wondered over the years why patience seems to be one of the hardest of life’s lessons to learn. We do admire restless activity so much. However, the accomplishments are fleeting and when our energy is used up we collapse with a depressed sense of uselessness. In contrast, the patient pursuit of life’s true gems (selfless love, peacemaking skills, empathy, generosity, etc.) brings a sense of connection to the divine purpose of our world.
Learning to be patient with ourselves and others brings into focus a larger perspective of life, a clearer context for our relationship with the divine. Cultivating patience, abstaining from time-leaching, overextended, busy work, opens our schedules to prayer, study, meditation, personal encounter with God. Our challenge is to learn to be as patient as trees.
“Over the years we melt into what we seek” (Joan Chittister, The Liturgical Year).
We are in the threshold between seasons in the Christian calendar. You may have been noticing the physical transitions of the seasons wherever you live as some enter the depths of winter and others the warmth of summer. The seasons are a visible reminder that even among the most predictable rhythms and routines of our lives, change is always happening. The events of our moments, days, weeks, years form us and transform us over time. We enter each season different from when we arrived here last. This is the nature of this cyclical journey of faith. In these final days of the Christian calendar and the season of Ordinary time, there is opportunity to take a sacred pause, to notice how you arrive in this threshold. What have you been formed by this year? What has been deepening you as you’ve lived through another cycle of this life of faith?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.