My time in Bolivia has been striking in some very humble, human ways. For starters, people greet each other here in the morning with a warm ‘Buenas dias.’ Whether it’s meeting someone in the elevator, a polite hello from the taxi driver, or ordering your first coffee of the day—individuals gladly offer up that little bit of respect. People at church actually greet each other with a holy kiss on the cheek, rather than walking by without even an acknowledgement. Mind-blowing!
Not only that, people take more time with one another in general. They sit longer. They play table games together instead of watching TV. They actually gather around a table and share coffee and sweets. People of different ages gather in the same home and engage in human conversations. This sense of leisure and lack of hurry impresses me.
Why are we in such a rush up here in the north? What is so important that we can’t seemingly push the pause button and interact with a colleague or a friend? Is our agenda really so important that we can’t smile at someone, put a hand on a shoulder, or say a few kind words before rushing off to our next appointment? We resemble the little bird lying on its back with its legs nervously stretched forth believing she is holding the entire sky up. But then when a leaf drops to the ground beside her, she flies off afraid. We are just as anxious, feeling like we are holding the skies aloft and if we make one wrong move everything will collapse.
I suggest that our rush (and agitation) is related to our lack of patience. We are impatient with our kids, spouses, work colleagues, neighbours (you name it!)—and above all GOD. Yes, GOD! Why does he not hear our prayers? Why does he not intervene amidst the chaos, war, and climate injustices? Why are little ones taken and so much pain left behind? I too feel the need to encourage God to pick up her pace and break into the visible dimension. I don’t want to suffer (patior in Latin). I’m used to getting the things the way I want…and at a speed!
In Bolivia, folks know how to suffer and they don’t shake their hands at God when they draw the short lot. In fact, a Bolivian proverb states: ‘Every day is like fighting a tiger.” They have learned to slow down and enjoy the little pleasures of life—because sometimes that is all you ever get. I was reminded of a few lines from Brother Carlo Carretto:
“We are in a hurry and do not want to accept the patience of God.”
“Give me a people who believe in love, and you will see happiness on earth.” (Carlo Carretto, In Search of the Beyond).
Let’s mindfully breathe in and out today. Slow down. And practice a little more ‘the often forgotten fruit of the Spirit’-patience.
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Well, Alan, this is a challenge to you and me--to participate in table games! We are guilty of that lapse in participation! Maybe there are ways we have not explored to cultivate patience.
Thanks Alan for sharing this thought provoking words. Muyiwa