Dear Saint Matthew’s,
I pray that you are feeling well this day and this week. It could be that for many of us, perhaps especially among the younger of us, this period is the longest time that we have been asked, for any reason in our lives, to be patient. And that in turn may mean that we experience being patient for a length of time a difficult thing to do. It asks a discipline of us to which we are not accustomed, most likely. Even more, the fact that we are asked to be disciplined at all may be hard for us.
Some of us at Saint Matthew’s have families and earlier lives rooted in other cultures, most often those of the African continent. It may be (I would be interested to hear from you on this) that those cultures perhaps remain closer to what was in the past characteristic of culture here in North America. We have always been a people of hope, and of faith, but in the past certain experiences were expected by our forebears:
The very word patience is instructive. It comes to us from the Old French of the 12th century, and its roots there are directly in Latin. Its meaning then was the quality of suffering or enduring. It was a quality inherent within a person. The patient person would be bearing, supporting; suffering, enduring, . . . tolerant. A person of patience would make it through difficulty. That doesn’t mean it would be easy, only that it would be possible and the person of patience was committed to enduring whatever came. Interestingly, the meaning of the word is completed by the fact that patience also included being firm and unyielding. In other words, not only is patience not a weakness, it is a strength.
Patience is on my mind now because we are well into the time of this pandemic. But we don’t know exactly how far into it we are. We cannot know precisely yet how much more will be asked of us, in this season or in a future one, before the danger and the suffering are past. You will have seen that there are those in our nation who are losing patience. As hard as it can be to accept this discipline, I am convinced that strength lies with the patient, rather than with the peremptory, a word we inherit from the 15th century with the original meaning of destructive. So dear ones, let us pray for patience, for ourselves and for all, each day and hour.
As we wait, the idea has been raised that those who are skilled with cloth among us may be able (and willing?) to fashion masks that we could provide to those who do not have any, and to those living in situations where the danger of contagion is great. There are many instructions online as to how masks can be made. If you might be willing, email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Masks.” And thank you!
Finally there are changes these days on our parish website. Please visit there often. You can enter discussion there on our response to Covid-19 as a church, ask for prayers, go directly to the website of our Diocese and more. Beginning today there will be a new page simply called Today. Each day it will note what’s going on for Saint Matthew’s, along with resources and ways of encouragement. So visit it everyday as a part of your patient routine.
Pray over Saint Paul’s words in his first letter to the Church at Corinth in the 4th verse of chapter 13. You have heard these words many times: “Love is patient.”
Yours in the rising Christ,
With thanks to the Online Etymology Dictionary