BY KELLY SWAN | December 12, 2022
Not the simplest of virtues to master.
I’ve had my share of impatience.
As a child, poking around my parents’ closet looking for hidden gifts, impatient to know what might be wrapped near the tree Christmas morning.
As a teenager, impatient to leave high school behind, to experience what was next…and again as a young adult, at the end of college.
Impatience with a first pregnancy that lasted two weeks longer than average. Impatience in the midst of the mayhem and chaos of parenting small children, and even now, with the process of walking alongside my oldest as they approach adulthood—impatient to see the skills emerge that I know they’ll need to thrive.
Impatience with myself and my own growth and limitations, and with the rate at which gardens grow and seasons change and healing occurs and relationships flourish…and, oh the big one, how slowly justice comes to fruition in our world.
Isn’t it interesting then, that every year, during Advent, we are asked to return to patience? To again and again, year after year, simply be patient, waiting for the coming of hope, preparing to be more fully human. We arrive here each year in all of our impatience, in the midst of what feels like unending injustice in a broken world—reminded that our task is to prepare the way, to stay the course, to discern and grow in our call to be people of justice, to keep our eyes trained toward what is to come.
Kelly Swan has worked for the Ignatian Solidarity Network since 2016, first as communications director, and now as director of advancement. She grew up in West Virginia and is a graduate of Wheeling Jesuit University. Kelly has worked in parish social ministry, child and family advocacy, community education and organizing, and publishing. She lives in the Cleveland, Ohio area with her children.
This is a beautiful reflection.
As I contemplated the balance between the immediacy of justice work and the call to patience, I was brought back to thinking about empathy.
Maybe the best way to ‘prepare the way, discern, grow, and keep our eyes trained’ is to focus on connection. And, as Brene Brown writes, “Empathy fuels connection.” We can be patient even as we build empathy, connections, understanding, and love… then our justice work can flourish.
Thanks. Patience is bliss. Kelly is preparing us for a meaningful Christmas. Maranatha.
Patience / Impatience. The Yin/Yang within us. On the outside others are drawn to me for my patient demeanour. And at the same time within I am impatient for change in my own life, for things seem to happen so slowly in institutions and bureaucracy, when I just want to get on with living my own life, or attending to my own needs. But in the end the waiting is always worth it when fighting for human rights and justice.