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Thursday 13 August 2015

Wonderful Saint Stories for Today

Bad, bad, bad.....

Sigh, Another Meteor Shower Missed

Since I have been back in the Midwest, coming to Illinois and then, Iowa, I have missed the great meteor showers for one reason-agricultural haze.

Believe it or not, on a night without clouds, London skies are clearer than those in the Bread Basket. The haze comes from the pollen of corn and soybeans, as well as from the dust from the herbicides and pesticides.

It is a lovely warm summer night with a few wispy clouds, but mostly clear, except for haze. At midnight, I went out to see the Perseids--sigh, no such luck.

Haze, haze, haze....and light pollution.

Some of the best sky watching I have done was when I was staying with my dear friend, C, in Kent (see 2011 and on, posts). The meteor showers were spectacular, as she lives two city blocks from the white cliffs between Dover and Folkestone.

Great skies....

Here, the cicadas are singing, the tree frogs croaking out those odd, tenor insect sounds, and the large ground hog, which lives under the back porch, rustles about sniffing for something good to eat out of the garden.

But, I cannot see one shooting star.

Sigh...double wish I was in Kent at C's, as STS is there right now, watching the thunderstorm over the Channel, which will ruin today's cricket match in Canterbury, most likely forcing a draw.

Book Begging

Would a reader like to get this for me?


What Is Patience?

So many people in America, myself included, have grown up with instant satisfaction in some many physical ways. We turn on the air-conditioning, or heat or humidifier and our environment becomes as comfortable as we desire.

We buy food of any variety and quality, ready-cooked, or almost cooked, even delivered to our door.

We save coupons, get coupons in our e-mail, and have coupons on our smart phones to buy any amount of things whether necessary or not.

We drive where and when we want to do so, with or without whom we want to be with at any given time.

We communicate on the Net, on our phones, but less and less over coffee or drinks.

We are the fast living, fast moving people of progress and daily new items are invented to tease us into more and more comfort with less and less work.

I remember when remote controlled Venetian Blinds became popular. I knew something was terribly wrong then. Or, when the automatic lights which go on when one enters a room, perfectly tuned to one's mood or needs require no effort but settings, I suspected we had fallen from grace.

Working with one's hands has become less and less a desire or a need. But, using one's hands brings patience, and a relationship with things, with nature, which is a good.

Most of my friends hire gardeners to mow lawns, trim hedges and bushes and shovel the snow in the winter. Most people I know have every possible gadget one can imagine in their living rooms and kitchens.

When I told someone I never used a microwave until I moved into their house this past summer, she was shocked. And, I also had to share that I never used a crockpot.

I always made things the "long way".

Several friends have brought up the fact that they lack patience. I am not surprised. We are so use to having everything the way we want it NOW, that patience seems no longer necessary-except in one area of our lives-relationships.

However, more and more people cannot communicate, do not talk things out in their families, do not share either difficulties or joys. Talking about serious things must be avoided at all costs, even the cost of family unity and love.

Discussing and working out problems among people takes time and effort, plus patience.

So, the next question was, well, what is patience anyway?

The dictionaries give us these definitions:

the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.
an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay:
to have patience with a slow learner.
quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence:
to work with patience.

But, patience is really humility. If one is humble, one can be uncomfortable, provoked without an angry response, enduring pain, irritation and so on.

The proud want everything "just so" and as they like it--and do not tolerate any inconveniences.

I learned humility waiting for Maltese buses.

I learned humility in Montessori training.

I learned humility by watching a long-suffering wife, who is a close friend and very old, and a saint.

But, mostly, I remind myself, when I begin to feel impatient that I am not God, I am not in control of life or other people or events. God is .

Learning patience comes with self-knowledge.

I do not get angry when driving and see mistakes of others. I have learned that road rage is pride.

Pride makes one critical of others to the point where one expects something from the other person, something the other person may not be able to effect.

Many people get impatient with phone trees on calls. This development is part of our lives, Patience is learning that we cannot change somethings to what they were in the past-like desiring good customer service from humans and not machines.

Part of learning patience is flexibility and not rigidity towards life. Those who want to be in control of every aspect of life will not only fail at becoming patient, but fail to learn to love.

People are "messy" and different and strange. Some humans guard themselves against the mess by purposefully isolating themselves from people, or by surrounding themselves with clones.

One does not learn patience in a vacuum, or in a group which seems homogeneous. 

Daily, I witness more and more anger among people-in shops, on the roads, in families. This anger reveals not only a lack of patience, but deep-seated pride. The meek are not valued anymore.

But, they will inherit the earth. And, what does that mean?

Why will the meek inherit the earth? What does it mean to inherit and what is meant by the earth?

Meekness or humility creates freedom in the soul. One become free to give up certain annoyances, and irritations. This freedom allows one to see things from different perspectives and not merely one's own.

For example, some people complain about the time they must wait in the doctor's office, an event which has sadly become more and more common.

I see waiting as an opportunity to either read an interesting book or even to pray silently.

To be able to use time which seems to be wasted is a gift from patience and from humility.

Why should my time be more valuable than someone else's time?

Meekness implies a gentleness and not an aggressivity towards others. Meekness implies that one knows how to suffer and in silence.

The meek will inherit, will be given something passed down to them, earned not by grace, but freely.

One does not earn an inheritance. One is given an inheritance as a gift. One does not deserve to inherit anything.

But, God promises us that the meek, the gentle, the humble, will be given.....what?

The earth...

Not heaven, the earth...the poor in spirit get heaven, while the meek are given the earth.

This means that those who are meek, are gentle, and humble are given the gift of loving what is around them now, at this present moment.

When Christ states this, He indicates that a peace and joy may be found now, on this earth, despite irritations, annoyances, misfortunes.

Lately, some difficult things have happened in my life. I am dealing with some difficult situations. I could get annoyed, or irritated. Or, I can learn to be gentle, humble, meek and accept these situations which are out of my control as part of God's plan for my life which I do not understand.

I live with more discomfort than most Americans could tolerate. I am not in control of so many things because I am poor, The poor become humble, if they let go of anger and frustration, through patience.

One of my favorite characters in fiction is Joe Gargery in Great Expectations. He is the opposite of the proud, wasteful Pip, who has to learn humility the hard way. Joe had married a shrew, and yet, when she is beaten by an intruder and needs care, he cares for her tenderly. Joe teaches Pip patiently, and bears with Pip's rejection, when this young man no longer wants to associate with the "lowly" blacksmith. But, when Pip needs rescuing, it is Joe who comes to aid and take care of him.

Why Joe is "saintly" is that he is humble. He has unique self-knowledge and is comfortable with who he is. He is long-suffering and finally rewarded with a good wife and Pip's deep respect, as it is fiction, as Oscar Wilde notes in The Importance of Being Earnest, "The good ended happily and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means."

Joe images patience because he is true to his good self. He sacrifices for others and does not place himself first. 

To learn patience, one must be willing to take second, or third, or the last place.