Father O’Doyle opens his well-worn book of sermons, scans the pages slowly with glasses perched perilously on his nose as if the slightest nod would send them tumbling onto the pulpit. His finger, bent with age and arthritis, traces back and forth the various lines of old text. Finally finding his place he clears his throat, which resounds loudly, like rolling thunder, echoing throughout the packed cathedral.
“The Lord,” he rasps, “does not grant thee patience.”
“Only granting thee thine opportunity in practicing patience”, the congregation answers in a well rehearsed call-and-response.
“For if He doth . . . ,” the father continues.
“Thou shalt not learn patience”, the crowd answers, “Thou shalt only learn thy art of whining and sniveling until thee gettith thine own way.”
“Though when patience is practiced . . . ith”
“Thou shalt not only learn patience,” drones the congregation, “but grace as well. Or shalt thee learn how to reinsert thine own eye into thine socket after the blood pressure of thee hath rendered it asunder.”
“Amen,” the old man croaks, “Here endeth the lesson.”
Sorry, couldn’t help it.
Guess what I’m learning this week??!!
. . . No, it’s the first part. My eyes are fine. But thank you for your faith in my disposition.
Actually, I guess you could say I’m learning the difference between “steps” and “goals”. I’m learning to do the next thing (steps) instead of constantly wanting to do the end thing (goals).
It explains a lot about why, after months of (in)consistent trying, my blog is not reeling in a stream of ad revenue; my book is not receiving mounds of publishing offers; and Ds Connections Nw is not the recipient of a constant stream of grant money.
I can imagine your surprise at my revelation.
I am learning, though. Learning very well how, and when, to do the next thing; take the next step. Then the next . . .and the next . . .
Surprisingly, when I look back, I’ve actually come a long way. Yet, when I look ahead . . . No, I’m choosing not to look ahead for awhile; choosing instead to lower my head, as if in a constant, pressing windstorm, and just push on.
Do the next thing . . .
“But I want to do that thing!” My inner voice cries as fingers point towards the grant money, the publishing contract, the 500+ weekly blog hits.
“I know,” says the gentle voice of Abba Father. “I know.”
“But do this first,” He says as He points to the thing at my feet. In other words: Write the next blog; rewrite the next chapter; set up the next DsCNw social gathering.
“But that’s sooooooo far away from there.” My voice says, once again pointing to the faint glimmer in the distance.
“Yes,” He answers, “and you may one day get there. But first you must gain patience.”
“Okay. Fine,” I answer reluctantly, stuffing my hands in my pockets and shuffling my feet like a chastised five-year-old, “But, can’t I have my patience NOW!!”
Abba closes his eyes and sighs heavily.
“Kids . . .” He mutters; shaking His weary head . . . in patience.