Lenten Reflection Three; Persistent Patience
Don’t Grab the Marshmallow
We want it now. Instant gratification is the drug of our consumer culture. But as shown among young children in the famous marshmallow experiment, developing patience is key to emotional development. For our inward spiritual journey, it’s a necessity. “We’re so attuned to instant gratification in our daily life that we want it in our spiritual life too: instant wisdom, instant growth, instant clarity, instant wisdom.” (The Samaritan Song blog, L. Phillips) A pilgrimage is like a drug rehabilitation program from our addiction to instant gratification. We practice watchful waiting, getting there step by step.
Question: What am I waiting for?
Does Your Anchor Hold?
Patience requires the development of memory and attention span. In our inward journey, we remember our story in the sweep of God’s story. And we hold our focus, freer from distractions. A pilgrimage helps. But also, retreating to a contemplative space. Either way, it’s how our anchor holds. In the Middle Ages, some withdrew to hermitages called “anchor-holds.” In Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard writes,
…some anchor-holds were simple sheds clamped to the side of a church like a barnacle…I think of this house clamped to the side of Tinker Creek as an anchor-hold. It holds me at anchor to the rock bottom of the creek itself and keeps me steadied in the current.
Exercise: Select a word or theme, like God’s love, or peace, or hunger, or forgiveness…whatever draws your deep curiosity or your inner disquiet. Hold your attention there, either while walking or retreating to a safe space. When your mind wanders, just observe what passes through, and then gently return. See how long your focus can be grounded. Write and if you’d like to, share.