29 April, 2008

a clanging cymbal

As children, we had to memorize 1 Corinthians 13 and I’m sure I’ve heard it repeated a hundred times since then, but this week it blew me away, as if I was reading it for the first time. I am astounded with so many different aspects of this chapter, but the last few days I’ve been especially fascinated with the idea of love being patient. (It is such a crushingly beautiful word, isn’t it?)

Patience seems like such an arbitrary quality to ascribe to love, of all the virtues to choose from. Loyalty or trust or gentleness seem like more apparent first choices. But patience starts off the list — patience is where Paul starts.

The more I consider it, the more I think perhaps this was proper, that maybe patience starts the list because patience is where everything else starts as well. If we do not have patience with one another — patience for one another’s sheer humanness — then no love can be exchanged at all. I must be patient with you so I can love you. And you must be patient with me before you can begin to love me at all.

In concert with these musings, God has been laying down these very tangible chances for me to exercise love as patience. It’s so hard and I wish He wouldn’t. Trying to keep back the barbed words of disdain that are just itching to spring from my tongue, trying to act with generous kindness instead of anxiety or self-promotion… when, really, I’d just rather act without any consideration of others, without any reservations about whether or not I’m being patient. But I don’t want to live that way anymore.

Last Thursday I was lying in the grass with Betsey and Emily and we were talking about the fruits of the spirit and which fruits we especially wanted to exemplify. (I think the two of them are already exceedingly fruitful and so it was difficult to imagine them lacking anything. Really.) As we talked, I realized that I would really love to be known as a gentle and patient woman. Those are such lovely characteristics, such beautiful virtues that I do not naturally possess. A quiet spirit. To be continually wrapped in peace and existing in peace. Soothed.

I feel peaceful now: my hardest exams are over and I don’t have another one until Monday. This afternoon I’ve had the time to do the things I love to do but don’t get to during the semester: like play guitar, solve the New York Times crossword puzzle, actually read The New York Times, lie in my bed and do nothing but listen to music, read smatterings of novels, even try writing.

In a bizarre burst of inspiration, I took up rewriting my feeble short story that has been a long time coming. I started it in June and rediscovered it this afternoon and thought, I need to just DO this and finish it, regardless of how awful it will inevitably be; the mere act of finishing will be an accomplishment and even if I never write another one again, I can at least say I’ve tried.

Reading: The New York Times Book Review, Cry, the Beloved Country
Hearing: “Simple X” by Andrew Bird and “Stay” by Alison Krauss
Thinking: but where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled…


jesario said...

This was great, thank you.

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