I used to have a wall hanging in the kitchen which read. “God grant me patience. And I want it right now.” My mother, well aware of the genetic predisposition to impatience in our family, gave it to me as a loving reminder of the need to take a deep breath and slow down. Patience is a virtue I have chased after most of my life, so I find the lessons of patience to be another reason to love Lent.
Lent invites us to slow down. The Lenten journey is not a sprint. It is a contemplative time that keeps us from just rushing to the giddiness of Easter; it requires us to think about the journey required to get from the rocky places in our life to the place where those rocks – where the rock – can be rolled away.
Demanding that our spirits slow down makes our minds and our hearts slow down, too. This enables us to savor the journey, both for the lessons learned along the way and for the people who make it with us – lessons we often neglect and people we often shortchange in the hectic rush to grab meaning and stuff it into our lives. We forget that what gives life meaning, what we are commanded by God to share with each other, is love. And love is patient. It is an act of love to be patient with those around us. Yes, even those around us on the 405.
Lent also gives us the opportunity to be patient with ourselves. Our walk through the season offers the chance to examine our own hearts and realize how much of our impatience with other people springs from our personal unhappiness, anger, and disappointment. Even better, the season gives us the opportunity to shed those negative feelings, to understand that happiness, peace, and hope are possible because of the patient and enduring love of our Savior.
Let us love Lent for its lessons of patience. Let us offer this gift to each other and to ourselves. Let us immerse ourselves in the patient love of the Lord who walks beside us, pleased to linger over the journey.
“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
2 Peter 3:8-9