A common theme of my Saturday Evening Posts these past two years has been the need for patience. So much of life has been regulated and conditioned by the uncertainties of timing around Covid. When is it safe? How long do we need to wait for the next step, whether it was vaccines, protocols, or medical and political directions and assurances. I recently have felt some relief from the tensions around the need for patience, but tonight the unease of impatience seems to haunt me once again. My patience seems thinner. And so it goes with medical appointments and house repairs. We are constantly in need of patience.
I’m an amateur potter. Anyone who has tried to throw a pot on a pottery wheel knows the process is a sublime teacher about the need for patience. If and when I am centered in my own mind and heart I seem to easily, patiently center the clay by working it until it becomes a perfect cone between my hands. Then I begin the process of working the clay from the center until I have an emptied out space that slowly becomes a vessel created through a creative tension between my two hands and the clay. If I am patient and do not hurry, the clay eventually tells me I have gone far enough, and I need to quit and accept the creation for just what it is. If I am impatient, however, and force the clay to expand further it simply succumbs to a crumple. The reason throwing a pot is almost a sacred process for me is because it demands a certain amount of patient relinquishment of control while also tenderly, patiently trusting that my creativity will hold and a pot will, indeed, become a reality.
I’m aware that my life and times feel a little like tending the precariousness of the clay in my hands. I have agency over my life, but I am also aware how, like my clay, I am vulnerable to the imposition of the pressure of events out of my control. My goal is to stay centered, present and attentive to my life and the world around me as a creative process. I try to accept what the clay/life has to offer, but I also have the ultimate responsibility for its successful creation.
Like all of you, I impatiently want the impositions of Covid to go away. I so much want our families and communities to find a level of mutual respect that transcends their relatively petty political and personal opinions that prevent them from successfully working together. I want our world to miraculously agree to create and enforce practices that will mitigate against the threats to our climate and all life. I want our government to establish a level of cooperation that encourages negotiation in good faith to serve the common good. These are wishes for which I have little or no personal control and therefore need the wonderful virtue of patience in the hope they will eventually come to pass. I like to think I can hover over my interaction with my world as I would tenderly tend the creativity of my clay pot on the pottery wheel.
Next week is the last week of Advent. I have scheduled no appointments, and I plan to hold the precious time of quiet as the equivalent of centering my clay. OK, I know most of you are straight out busy with preparations for hosting and travel or last minute details as you prepare for Christmas next Sunday. We are not having family or guests for Christmas Day. But even if we were busier I would still be intentional about commemorating the holy season of anticipating the birth of Jesus and the Winter Solstice’s promise of increased light and hope. In my time of ritual and quiet I will honor the yearning for internal and external peace in myself and my world.