Of the many life lessons we learn in the rooms of AA, one key principle is the adage “one day at a time.” Sobriety does not materialize in a week or a month or 10 years even. It is an ongoing daily process. I can’t count the number of passionate “newcomers” to the program who get their 30-day sobriety chip only to celebrate with a trip to the local bar.
When Life is Found in Its “Intermediate Stages”
But this piece about patience is about much more than recovery; it is about synchronicity with the fundamental principles of life. In the Teilhard de Chardin quote above he goes on to write, “We are impatient… we would like to skip the intermediate stages.” I think it is in “the intermediate stages” that the most critical learning and progress occur.
Randy Carrasco, my friend who is a jujitsu master, just recently explained to me the underlying meaning of the Japanese word, “Ryu.” Ryu is the word commonly translated in the US as a particular “school’” in martial arts training. As Randy elaborated, the word “school” misses the point. Ryu is a word based on the idea of “flow,” like the flow of a river. So martial arts students enter the “flow of a specific style of teaching a discipline.” I love it.
Patience and “Flow”
Now, back to the intermediate stages idea: the intermediate stages are the flow of life. But instead of flow (or stages), we in America are more interested in the destination—and the faster we get there the better.
It’s much like the changing of the seasons. At what precise point does Winter become Spring? At the falling of a leaf? If so, which leaf, and where? It is a silly notion. Winter becomes Spring only in a patient process of transition. Change does not occur in a day or an instant, but over an indiscernible period of time. One day we are in Winter and then sometime later, on another day we discover, “Oh my, it is Spring. When did that happen?”
Patience and Flow of God
And such is the slow work of God. It was 13th-14th century mystic, Julian of Norwich who first introduced me to this notion of the Patience of God and, in turn, my responsibility to proceed in my life with that same patience.
My mentor in seminary was fond of referring to the “long-suffering” of God; that God “suffers long,” patiently waiting for the change of heart and mind of his people to return to him with their love. And then, at the “proper time” God ushered in cosmic redemption in the person of Jesus. All with Divine patience.
Patience and Flow in Me
Today—this very day—my wife and I muster up all our strength to patiently wait for what preacher E.V. Hill once referred to as “a word from the Lord” regarding a very clear call for a change in my life. I was present when E.V. Hill told a crowd of seminarians that frequent was the time on Sunday morning at his church he would tell the music director to “sing another song. I am waiting for a word from the Lord.”
Ahh, such is the patience of life…
Patience is a Flow
Waiting for “A Divine Word from the Lord”
Photo courtesy of filmfoto at istockphoto