By Kate Anderson
Trust in him at all times, O my people!
Pour out your hearts before him;
God is our refuge! ~ Psalm 62:8
I’ve only prayed for patience once in my life. And after the longest tennis match of my 8th-grade career, I’ve never tried that prayer again.
Fortunately, the Lord has not given up on me in this particular department of virtue. Quite the contrary, in fact. Patience is my daily assignment in the School of Love. It’s excruciating. It’s exhausting. And it’s by far the most beautiful adventure of my life.
These assignments look much like those from an Introduction to the Creative Arts course I took in college. We listened to professional orchestras, observed theatre productions, marveled over artistic masterpieces, and meandered with joy through all the art circles in the metro.
Joyful meandering aside, every artist has their limits. Mine was the visual arts.
I am quick to love a colorful mural or happy painting. But anything that fails to strike my “lovely” receptors immediately is usually dismissed with haste, deemed unworthy of further attention. Not proudly, I wondered, who would be the wiser if I ignored any possibility of finding “hidden beauties” and continued my quest to walk all six levels of the art gallery?
Not I, my friends. Certainly not I.
One of the greatest lessons this class taught me was the importance of time in art.
In the visual arts, time is in the eye of the beholder. (Behold the piece for 10 seconds or 10 hours—It’s up to you!)
In the musical arts, the artist can only create through time.
We can’t experience a symphony in a split second. The piece unfolds one note and one rest at a time—one movement after the next. Most symphonies showcase three or four of these movements, each with a unique feel, tempo, and style, much like the unfolding of the masterpiece that is our lives.
How often we treat the Divine Arrangements like an uncomely painting rather than a marvelous symphony underway! Perhaps those notes of discord or that minor key is a bit unsettling. But are we willing to let it unfold? Can we step back and see the loveliness flowering in time?
At the heart of impatience—at least mine—is fear of the unknown. What will the next movement hold? Melodies past have held great sorrow and suffering, and I am leery of an encore. If only the Conductor would let me swing His baton for a few measures. But a false illusion of control won’t soothe my anxious heart either.
My peace is only as far away as trust and surrender, two themes greatly supported by a heart steeped in patience.
I turn in a special way this week to Saint Teresa of Jesus—16th-century mystic, Carmelite, and Doctor of the Church—for reassurance: “To have courage for whatever comes in life – everything lies in that.”
Courage, dear friend. The artist will keep working in His sweet time. Works of patience will not be lacking in the School of Love. And somehow, this masterpiece will unfold after all.
Let us keep our eyes on our faithful Conductor, learning the art of keeping time with Him.
Saint Teresa of Jesus, please pray for us that we may imitate your courage in facing whatever comes in life. Jesus, I trust in You!
Call to Action
Spend some time with an unfamiliar piece of music or art from the Church’s great treasury. Ponder and pray with it over time and let the Holy Spirit speak as you cultivate a patient heart to beauty unfolding.
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