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Being Patient with the Process

I think most of us have come to grips with the truth revealed in the familiar statement, “It’s the journey, not the destination.”   The great truth in that for most of us is the realization that while goals are important and necessary, we can become so fixed on our ultimate goals that we miss a lot along the way—joy, beauty, people, memories.   That, and the fact that even getting to our path to our destination is composed of a million day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute disciplines that must happen now, along the way.  I think such is exactly what Jesus is addressing in Matthew 6:25-34, where he encourages us not to be anxious but rather to trust and live faithfully in the moment.

But the journey itself can be frustrating.   We understand that we can’t get there tomorrow and that there is a purpose and a reason for even the chores of the day, but….those setbacks, those failures, those delays and detours we had not planned to take can be so frustrating.  We can become angry at ourselves and others.  “Why can’t I get this?”  “Why won’t they get out of the way?”  “Why is this not going as planned?”   Such feelings can derail our journey altogether.

Unless…we develop some patience with the process.  Those are the words of Carrie Newcomer, a Quaker singer songwriter who writes some of the most deeply spiritual songs around today.   A piece of such patience, she suggests, involves focusing not just on our failings or stumblings, but also on how far we have come and being grateful for that.  “But today I can choose to view this life-long and life-giving journey with a sense of gratitude and accomplishment. I have actually come this far. I have braved what seemed unbearable. I have walked through the valley of the shadow and found not only light and beauty on the other side, but that I was never alone” (MT 28:20b). Seth Oppenheimer, a Rabbi friend of a friend, recently said, “We focus on all the miracles that don’t happen.”  In saying such, he was implying, of course, that we neglect the miracles that do happen, those miracles that happen in and around us every day that enable us to be who we are, or, considering our present metaphor, where we are on the journey. 

The other part of being patient, Newcomer writes, is a simple appreciation for the inherent cyclical nature of journey and the fact that sometimes our failures actually facilitate our progress.   “The sacred journey means falling down and getting up, getting it right, getting it wrong, circling around, forgiving, forgetting to forgive, then forgiving again. It means if I keep on walking, all these experiences contribute to my ability to bring greater compassion to my every interaction. I am more able to help, love, parent, create, give the best of who I am with greater depth and compassion, because I’ve had to struggle, and struggle mightily at times. It means that because I am a work in process because I am not ‘done’ I can humbly open myself to new ideas, other ways of seeing an issue, be vulnerable and in that vulnerably connect to others. It means that because I am not finished with this journey, I live in hope.”

As we continue on our individual and corporate journeys, let us live with patience, and in hope.

Grace, David


This article was written by Rev. Dr. David Breckenridge and originally published in the July edition of Together.

Posted by Bridget Ellis at 8:30 AM
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