One of the benefits of getting older, in my experience, is that I have acquired patience.  What used to annoy and frustrate me is more easily tolerated by taking a deep breath and accepting that I have a choice about how I will respond.  Instead of reacting impulsively, as young people often do, I realize that I am my own authority, in charge of my own emotional responses, and I do the best I can to honor all the years of meditation I have practiced (since I was 17).  That doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes get angry or annoyed, but it means that I am much more conscious of what I’m feeling before I respond.

Teenagers are famous for acting out their feelings as they struggle with their own identity and the world around them.  They are not known for patience, which seems to be an acquired trait.  Life experience, many years of it, has taught me that the world is not always going to be the way I want it to be, and that going with the flow is often the best policy.  Everyone is struggling with something, and being patient is often the only way to be kind.

All my years as a pastoral counselor and healer have also taught me to be patient as I listen to hours of people’s sufferings.  I have to stay focused and concentrate. I have to stay grounded and calm.  I have to be present and patient as a story unfolds, sometimes over weeks, months or years.  Being patient elicits compassion and respect for the sufferings of others.  It also elicits kindness in the way I respond.

As we go through our days, developing the ability to be patient is a good spiritual practice.  It only takes one person to change several, so maybe patience can have a ripple effect in our lives.  Whether it can spread out to the rest of the world, we can only hope. 

Hope and Acceptance

We all hope in many ways for many things.  We hope for love, health, prosperity.  We hope for good lives for our children and family members.  We hope for an end to war so we can live on a peaceful planet.  And when loved ones become ill, we hope for their return to health.

Sometimes the medical profession tells us not to hold out “false hope” for someone’s recovery, but we do anyway.  Because we all know that there is no such thing as false hope.  There is only hope.  Sometimes hope turns into denial if it holds on in the face of change.  Denial is painful.  If someone is dying, denial can cause anger and disconnection from the person who is ill, or desperate anxiety in an attempt to save the person. Acceptance can lead to love, forgiveness and comfort that lasts long after the person is gone.

So maybe hope and acceptance walk hand in hand through our lives.  We hope and we accept.  We may hope for one result and have to accept another.  We may hope for healing and feel grateful when healing occurs.  We can accept the outcome, whether it is joyful or painful. Hope and acceptance keep us alive and in touch with our hearts, in touch with Love.