The Courier

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I am not the most patient of people.  This will come as a shock to those of you who have sat in my office telling me about your problems, issues, griefs, losses, stubbed toes, bruised egos, mashed expectations, and deflated dreams.

Sorry.  That came out badly.  This sounds as though I have no patience for the real needs of members and/or their families.  That’s not true.  But it’s all too easy for any of us (even me – as awesome as I am) to become impatient with our family, our spouse, our job, our posting, our workmates.  And I’m as prone to that as anyone.  Ask my wife (on second thought – don’t).

Padre (Major) Howard Rittenhouse – File Photo

But impatience is part of our culture.  We’re used to receiving nearly everything at once: approval, microwave meals, credit cards, cell phone reception.  Have you ever found yourself shouting at your computer because Google was taking so long to open the next page, or because the YouTube video featuring puppies (puppies!!) took an extra 30 seconds to load?  Don’t lie!  I know you have because I have.

Of course, impatience is like a pair of rats: the next thing you know there are dozens.  In other words, impatience breeds more impatience.  We find ourselves dissatisfied with more and more.  Quick service at the restaurant isn’t good enough; it must be instantaneous.  Physical Training and that wonder powder must achieve muscles like Arnie in a week rather than a year.  Talking to the padre about one’s relationship must result in marital bliss yesterday rather than realizing that things have been fractured for so long it’s going to take just as long (or longer) to work them out.

(I sense some of you are wondering what my point is: just be patient!)

What makes so many things in life (marriage, work, family, faith, health, friends) more difficult than perhaps they need to be is what the author Gore Vidal analyzed as “today’s passion for the immediate and the casual.”  We’re all in a hurry.  We all want short cuts.  We’re all impatient for results.  And we don’t want to work for it.  

But the things that really matter – marriage, work, family, faith, health, friends – aren’t made in a day, aren’t grown in a minute, aren’t slapped together like a piece of Ikea furniture (that you’ll only have to return next week because it broke or is missing a part.  What is it about Ikea, anyway?! )  They take effort and time; they need to be nurtured and care for; they need devotion and attention.  

The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche saw this area (if few others) with great clarity: “The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is … that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.”  It’s this “long obedience in the same direction” which our society and culture does so much to discourage. 

Impatience fits as well with this “long obedience” as a Bieber fan at a Black Sabbath concert.  Practice this “long obedience in the same direction” – the things in life that matter are worth it.

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