Tag Archive | patience

On experiencing a small setback in recovery from her knee surgery

(National Poetry Month, Day 29)

I first encountered John Milton’s “On His Blindness” when I was 16 and taking a British Literature course in high school. I got it, but I didn’t get it. I encountered it again when I was 23 and in graduate school. I got it, but I didn’t really have time to think about it. This year, it has popped into my head innumerable times. I get it now, and I can see that it means something very important.
Over the past year, I’ve learned that the hardest thing about being patient is learning to be patient with oneself.
And I’ve learned that limitations are often very cleverly-disguised opportunities.

 

On His Blindness
by John Milton

 

When I consider how my light is spent,
E’re half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide,
Lodg’d with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, least he returning chide,
Doth God exact day labour, light deny’d,
I fondly ask; But patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts, who best
Bear his milde yoak, they serve him best, his State
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’re Land and Ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and waite.

sunrise over continuous passive motion machine (with flowers)

sunrise over continuous passive motion machine (with flowers)

The Medium Is the…Carvel Cake

Part of the genius of our good family friend Fr. Bob Brennan is that he knows exactly how to deliver a message. Fr. Bob has had his share of maladies, and he is the first to offer sympathy when anyone is suffering. He has a keen sense of in what way each individual suffers, and he takes tremendous joy in ministering to those in need.

When I had my first knee surgery in July 2011, Fr. Bob called very soon after I returned home to ask how I was, and he offered the expected get-well wish. However, he knows me. And because of this, he realized that the pain wouldn’t be an issue; instead, waiting to resume my regular (sometimes frenzied) level of activity would be difficult for me. So Fr. Bob hand-delivered this card: the most delicious card I have ever tasted.

Patience cake

Note the message: “Maura ‘Patience!’.” Not the traditional “get well soon” with flowers and frilly wishes, not even a comical greeting designed to make me laugh. No, Fr. Bob knew exactly what I (his audience) needed. I needed to hear (and see, and taste) that patience is necessary. The medium he chose in order to convey this message was perfect. Patience has always been one of my personal challenges; Fr. Bob, knowing me so well, also knows that Carvel cake is one of my favorite things in the world, ranking right up there with Roy Rogers roast beef sandwiches. Fr. Bob could have chosen to give me a lecture on the theological virtue of patience, or he could have warned me against impatience. Instead, he conveyed his message in the medium that was best suited to my needs and tastes at the time.

From Fr. Bob, I learned that conveying a message accurately is paramount. In addition, I learned that the audience will ignore or, even worse, misinterpret the message if it’s not conveyed in a tone, style, and genre that is meaningful and appropriate to the audience.

I responded well to Fr. Bob’s message. Here’s exactly what I thought of what he said, and how he said it.

Patience eaten

Although I’m now waiting to finally be done with my crutches after my third knee surgery, I remember Fr. Bob’s message. How could I forget? Patience is its own sweet reward.