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The pandemic is a harsh educator. Apart from cruel isolation and challenges to our finances, there are everyday lessons that challenge our patience. Standing in queues outside shops and post-offices is a real lesson in patience, something that many of us find very difficult. We seem to be learning so much about ourselves and others, and not all of these discoveries are comfortable. For those of us that can be impatient, it’s a real opportunity to reassess ourselves, and discover new ways to be serene.
So this week’s Words of Connection is dedicated to patience and its sister, serene peace. We open with some quotations about patience from a variety of different sources. After this comes a reading about patience from the great philosopher, scientist and Jesuit priest – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. We follow this with readings about peace from two Indian traditions – Hindu and Jain.
The closing poem represents something of a contrast. It comes from a poet who claims that patience is her muse. This is Alice Oswald… and we have included her poem Various Portents, which has to be a suitable choice for the moment, given that we have gone through so many inexplicable happenings in 2020. Life will never be quite the same, of this we may be sure.
Thank you for your attention, and support. I do hope you enjoy Words of Connection. They are for you
Very best wishes,
WORDS ABOUT PATIENCE
You add a little to a little
And then do it again;
Soon that little becomes much
Hesiod (700 BCE)
It is far better to endure patiently a smart which nobody feels but yourself,
than to commit a hasty action whose evil consequences will extend to all
connected with you.
Inner peace is impossible without patience. Wisdom requires patience. Spiritual growth implies the mastery of patience. Patience allows the unfolding of destiny to proceed at its own unhurried pace.
When planning for a year, plant corn.
When planning for a decade, plant
When planning for life, teach people.
Trying to understand can be like straining through muddy
Have patience and wait. Be still and allow the mud to settle.
How poor are they that have not patience!
What wound did ever heal but by degrees?
William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)
You do not need to leave your room.
Remain sitting at your table and listen.
Do not even listen, simply wait.
Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary.
The world will freely offer itself to you
to be unmasked, it has no choice.
It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
Franz Kafka (1883 – 1924)
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881 – 1955)
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
Amity to All
I give amity to all and emnity to none.
Know that violence is the root-cause
Of all miseries in the world.
Violence, in fact, is the knot of bondage.
Do not injure any living being
This is the eternal, perennial and
unalterable way of spiritual life.
A weapon, however powerful it may be,
Can always be superseded by
a superior weapon;
however, no weapon can be
superior to non-violence and love.
From the Vedas (1500BCE)
May there be peace in the higher regions; may there be peace in the firmament; may there be peace on Earth. May the waters flow peacefully; may the herbs and plants grow peacefully; may all the divine powers bring unto us peace. The supreme Lord is peace. May we all be in peace, peace and only peace; and may that peace come into each of us. Shanti, shanti, shanti.
Traditional Hindu Quotation
Without meditation, where is peace?
Without peace, where is happiness?
Various stars. Various kings.
Various sunsets, signs, cursory insights.
Many minute attentions, many knowledgeable watchers,
Much cold, much overbearing darkness.
Various long midwinter Glooms.
Various Solitary and Terrible Stars.
Many Frosty Nights, many previously Unseen Sky-flowers.
Many people setting out (some of them kings) all clutching at stars.
More than one North Star, more than one South Star.
Several billion elliptical galaxies, bubble nebulae, binary systems,
Various dust lanes, various routes through varying thicknesses of Dark,
Many tunnels into deep space, minds going back and forth.
Many visions, many digitally enhanced heavens,
All kinds of glistenings being gathered into telescopes:
Fireworks, gasworks, white-streaked works of Dusk,
Works of wonder and/or water, snowflakes, stars of frost . . .
Various dazed astronomers dilating their eyes,
Various astronauts setting out into laughterless earthlessness,
Various 5,000-year-old moon maps,
Various blindmen feeling across the heavens in braille.
Various gods making beautiful works in bronze,
Brooches, crowns, triangles, cups and chains,
And all sorts of drystone stars put together without mortar.
Many Wisemen remarking the irregular weather.
Many exile energies, many low-voiced followers,
Watches of wisp of various glowing spindles,
Soothsayers, hunters in the High Country of the Zodiac,
Seafarers tossing, tied to a star . . .
Various people coming home (some of them kings). Various headlights.
Two or three children standing or sitting on the low wall.
Various winds, the Sea Wind, the sound-laden Winds of Evening
Blowing the stars towards them, bringing snow.