Do not measure in terms of time: one year or ten years means nothing. For the artist there is no counting or tallying up; just ripening like the tree that does not force its sap and endures the storms of spring without fearing that summer will not come. But it will come. It comes, however, only to the patient ones who stand there as if all eternity lay before them—vast, still, untroubled. I learn this every day of my life, I learn it from hardships I am grateful for: patience is all.
–Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
Patience, that long-suffering word, is for our time, a holy place where we can plant our yearnings alongside hope and persistence, like a garden planted in a neighborhood of despair.
I long for the time when my country moves toward sanity, When health care is declared a right for all, When climate change is taken seriously, When God and Caesar are not confused, When vulgarity is not rewarded, When Jesus no longer weeps.
The upside-down version of everything now exists: truth, religion, what it means to be human-- all has been perverted, and my patience is tried. There is no redemption, it seems, for those addicted to power and wealth at all costs.
And yet, Patience sits and waits inside the immensity of our plight, secretly blooming with life and possibility-- delicate and ephemeral and risky, like a young round tomato, daring to ripen, even while vulnerable to the scorching sun, disease, disappointment.
Patience has been disappointed before, but still, Patience calls us, over and over again, to hope, believe, persist, resist, and hold fast to reason, awareness, kindness, regardless of the outcome, because the courage is in the trying.
Patience knows how to wait, To be alert, To be open, To be stubborn in the belief that Life is good, God is good, people are—for the most part—good.
Patience is not a passive state of mind, but a relentless advance toward something fresh: the bursting forth of a thousand tiny, relentless sprouts that create a slice of green life, doggedly pushing upward through the dark earth, until it breaks through to bask in the sun and feel the cool rain on its thirsty leaves.
It is worth the wait, says Patience.
Patience is a quiet, invisible process taking place Beneath the noise of the world, to be cultivated with awareness and nourished with time.
Patience is another name for God, whose “steadfast” love is a stubborn love, one that never gives up on our foolish and witless little selves.
The beauty of God creatively holds the tension of what is with what is possible—what can be planted in the ground of drought and flood and disregard.
What can be persists.
God is driven by love to weep with us, despair over us, and yet like a patient gardener, continues to offer us novel seeds for planting, fresh clippings to root, and bright spring lilies of tangerine and speckled yellow, to dazzle, to inspire, to remind us of the beauty that just keeps blooming, come what may.
“Love is patient and kind . . .” God is love. Therefore, God is patient and kind, and will never quit dreaming of goodness and beauty and redemption.
To be a gardener of hope is to be patient. Patience is our practice. Patience is all.