Pastoral Letter

Dear Friends

I do hope your year is progressing well and that you are enjoying the summer, however, at the time of writing I have no idea whether we will be knee deep in mud or not when you receive this. I have grown lots of plants from seed this year and for the first time for a number of years I had them all sown on time. One particular pot of celeriac had me on the edge of my seat. The packet informed me that the seed would germinate in 14 to 21 days. After 40 days there was still no sign of a shoot. Given that this vegetable needs a long season I was in two minds as to whether to sow the seed again or just simply abandon the cause. Three days ago I decided to throw the soil away but for some reason I delayed and the very next day seven or eight shoots appeared. Now there are 30. I know that some seeds can take up to a year to germinate but I won’t be growing any of those; I can’t take the suspense. Time and time again in gardening I have had this happen but I still haven’t learned to be patient.

I love gardening because there always seem to be plenty of life lessons involved. I found myself wondering again about patience and trying to assess how patient a person I really am. Clearly, not so much with some seeds but then they are just seeds. Then there are slow computers, the constant request for passwords that I have forgotten, and my cat, Oscar. I don’t think I’m that patient with myself either and there are so many things that I wish would speed up in my own life. For some reason I seem to be able to be endlessly patient with other people. Whether or not that is my training or just experience of life, I’m not sure.

As with kindness, which I wrote about in my April letter, patience is a virtue that flows from love. That being true I have to ask myself why I can be patient with others but not so much myself. I suspect that I am not the only one that reacts in this way. But I need to learn to be patient with myself and I need to love myself more because others do and so does God. God himself knows how many reasons there are for him not to be patient with me and yet he is. Over the years I realise that this knowledge has allowed me to become more patient with myself, not to be so self-critical and, consequently, less stressed. This in turn has enabled me to become more patient and tolerant of others no matter who they are, where they are from and what differences there are between us. This can only be a good thing for our world.

Driving has been a classic case of this for me. In my thirties I recognised how stressed I was getting on the road and at some point I made a decision that it didn’t matter how quickly I arrived somewhere, only that I arrived safely and at peace with myself and those around me. It was clear then that being patient was a choice rather than something innate or acquired. Again, as with kindness, the choice to be patient flows from the choice to want the best out of life and the best for others. Patience is an act of love, both for yourself and for others.

God is love, and those who live in love live in God and God lives in them.
1 John 4:16

Every blessing
Stephen

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