Good things come to those who wait

Patience isn’t high on my list of character strengths. Ask my family, friends, and colleagues. They’ll tell you when I get an idea in my head or a goal in my sights, my next question is often why isn’t it done yet? I often see patience as procrastination. I have little tolerance for the latter — in others or in myself.

Patience is a virtue.

All good things come to those who wait. 

It will come, in due time. 

All phrases I was convinced were contrived by someone trying to get a head start in the race.

I find this impatience lurking even in my greatest joys. When I see potential in something or someone, I want that potential to be realized now, sometimes even yesterday.

K will look at me when I’m focused on the end of some timeline and ask why are you trying to rush it? She’s right. Nearly all of life is evolution, not revolution. Most things in life don’t need to be — or refuse to be — rushed. I’m learning to embrace this new approach, sometimes reluctantly, to allow things to unfold organically and without meticulous intent.

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Last summer while hiking in New Mexico, I captured this photo at the top of a ridge adjacent to our campsite. We’d just finished a strenuous ascent up a rocky path. Over the last mile, the wind strengthened and the sky threatened to open.

The trees on the ridge fell victim to wildfire years ago, now just lifeless scars. The scene felt heavy, and my Catholic heritage evoked an almost Gol’gothic visual in my mind. It was beautiful in its somber tones, but I was impatient for more. I knew the sun was setting behind the ominous clouds. I paced the ridge hoping they would part to reveal its glory.

They never did. The grey pall dissolved into night.

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The next morning I crawled out of my tent. The rising sun cracked over the ridge, bringing new life to the charred trunks, a vibrant green to the reborn understory. The clouds gave a hint of the blue sky above.

It wasn’t the beauty my impatience craved the night before.

It was more. It was greater than.

It was the good thing that comes to those who wait.

The juxtaposition of these two photos has resonated in me since I took them. My heart kept telling me there was meaning in the imagery, but my mind struggled to find the words to describe it. Every time I saw them in my collection, I knew I had to write about them — that they had potential. It frustrated me that their story would not spring forth, no matter how hard I squeezed.

I had to wait for the meaning. It had to come in due time.

As it struck me that these images were my lesson in patience, The Doors’ Waiting for the Sun crossed my consciousness. Morrison’s drawn out vocals, dripping with potential, demanding patience from his listener. Twenty seconds for just three lines. Masterpiece worth the wait.

Can you feel it
Now that Spring has come
That it’s time to live in the scattered sun

Patience will never be one of my greatest virtues, but I’ve learned to welcome its long-neglected place in my life — with the universe, those who intersect and inhabit my life, and myself.

 

 


From July 16-27, 2017, my son and I, along with three other boy scouts and two other dads in Crew 716-J-02, backpacked 84 miles through Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimmarron, New Mexico. These photos were taken at Elkhorn trail camp on Saturday-Sunday, July 22-23, trail days 7-8.

Becoming untethered

This is a print I bought from Alexandra Miller, a young artist I met in 2015. I remember her being almost painfully introverted as we completed the transaction, perhaps surprised that I’d taken such an interest in this print. It’s a piece that I imagine most find heavy, almost grotesque.

The second I saw it, I told others that I saw hope. 

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Over the threshold of a new year

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Back in October, K and I celebrated my 46th birthday watching Matt Nathanson and Matchbox Twenty perform at the TaxSlayer Center in Moline. Matt opened with the perfect blend of concert, revival, and comedy jam that energized the crowd for Rob Thomas and crew’s last stop on their 20th anniversary tour. The arena went completely black at the same moment a single white spotlight illuminated an empty microphone stand.

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Feeling hope

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Despite the tumultuous year, my inkling was right. This piece hangs in the hallway outside my bedroom, and I feel its power every day and night.

I still feel hope. I always will.

Green with hope

It’s only February 19. It’s only February 19. It’s only February 19. That’s my mantra today, as I attempt to talk myself down from the excitement I felt as I walked through the garden. Signs of spring are everywhere.

Tiny fans of iris (Iris germanica) foliage are starting to green up among the leaves and mulch.

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Of hope…of faith…of tomorrow

Last week, my son came home from school, proud of the new word he learned that day.

“Dad, I know what vernal means,” he beamed.

“You do? What does it mean?” I replied.

“Well, it’s kind of like spring,” he correctly answered.

I smiled and asked him, “Do you know that plant in the backyard that has the yellow-orange, spidery flowers on it? The witch hazel. Well, its real plant name is Hamamelis vernalis, which means it’s a witch hazel that blooms in the spring time.”

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Finding a snowy lining

My alarm went off this morning at 6:45am, the same time it usually does on a Monday morning. But as I rolled over to turn it off, I remembered that this wasn’t an ordinary Monday. It was the first Monday in more than a decade that I wouldn’t be earning any money.

Due to the budget crisis at the university where I’m employed, all faculty and academic staff are mandated to take four unpaid furlough days, one each month from February  through May. It’s a strategy that many universities and other organizations have taken across the nation to deal with staggering shortfalls of revenue. None of us particularly likes losing about four percent of our salary each month this spring, but if it can help the university stay operational and avoid widespread layoffs, I haven’t met a person who isn’t willing to take their fair share of the financial pain.

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