Patience is a hard discipline. It is not just waiting until something happens over which we have no control: the arrival of the bus, the end of the rain, the return of a friend, the resolution of a conflict. Patience is not a waiting passively until someone else does something. Patience asks us to live the moment to the fullest, to be completely present to the moment, to taste the here and now, to be where we are. When we are impatient we try to get away from where we are. We behave as if the real thing will happen tomorrow, later and somewhere else. Let’s be patient and trust that the treasure we look for is hidden in the ground on which we stand. (Excerpt from Bread for the Journey by Henri Nouwen)
Here it is, almost the middle of January, and we still have mistletoe hanging in our hallway. I have been forbidden from taking it down. Every time I try, the boys chorus a cry of protest. So I leave it. And every few days I hear a boy squeal, “Mommy, look, I’m under the mistletoe!” and they wait, giggling, until I run to them to smother them with kisses. So, no, I don’t mind the shriveled up plant becoming an eyesore on the ceiling. That mistletoe will stay where it is until little bits of leaves fall into a poisonous pile on the floor. Because there won’t be many years left until smooching under the mistletoe is deemed gross in this house full of boys. I will take every little post-Christmas kiss that I can get.
Meanwhile, you will find us outside making a freeway in the plants. Our weather has been in the eighties this week. I’m not trying to brag, because actually I’d rather we had a little week of (impossible) snow to enjoy something new, but we’re taking advantage of the sun to build some highly necessary infrastructure in the plants out front. There are scores of cars who apparently needed a freeway built of old planks and dirt and things. The plants are being chopped and rearranged and organized in a very particular way, all with the protection of safety goggles, of course. There are some visitors from Africa, Jake told me, and that’s why there’s a camel amongst the vehicles. And we have quite a few paper huts dotting the landscape, too. The boys and their neighbors spent three hours building their freeway and add to it daily. So I stand in the sun, soaking up every ray that I can before it returns to “winter” later this week. I take in the neighborly chats and the boys’ serious planning sessions and the thrill of a project and the sunshine.
I mention all of this here not because I have some notion that anyone really wants to know what my boys and I are doing on a January afternoon in California, but because I want to remember that I am living in the moment today. So, Future Self, if you are reading this, please know that I didn’t take it for granted. I realize and am relishing the treasure that is today. I am not letting it pass me by. At least for today I am not wishing to be somewhere else or sometime else. I am living these little moments to the full, whether under the mistletoe or out on the freeway in the plants.