Rhythm, Timing, and Patience

Sometimes I arrive just when God’s ready to have someone click the shutter.  —Ansel Adams

B elow me, waves from the Gulf of Mexico crash steadily upon the beach. To the east, the sun rises slowly, almost imperceptibly; right on time. My ears are full of the ocean’s persistent roar, reflective of rhythmic movements toward and upon the sand. The moment is organic, natural. Nature’s power and grace on full display with no apparent effort. Of course, hidden forces dictate these movements and the seemingly effortless rhythm is no accident. Therein lies the beauty.

Our lives also move to a certain rhythm, though it is one we are always trying to control. We want to dictate the timing, the pace, and the direction. We want to be masters of our universe and we get the chance to make the choices, take the steps into our desired directions. When we encounter undesired results, we often become frustrated, impatient, irritated, or perhaps fearful. Anxiety becomes our rhythm when things move uncertainly.

Of course, every aspect of our lives revolves around uncertainty. Relationships depend on the choices made by others. Our health is impacted by external forces. Careers wind and weave, often careening from the impact of markets and competition. Yes, our choices play a major role but there is always an element of randomness; forces acting upon us in spite of our best efforts to manage them.

Watching the sun and the ocean, I’m reminded that the timing and the rhythm are not always ours. The other forces moving us, acting upon us, flow from the unseen and are no less steady than the wind, gravity, and earthly rotation on display this morning. Looking back 15 minutes, I can trace the sun’s rise and see how the waves have carved their place on the beach. Our lives are so very similar, the movements and moldings become clear as we look back upon them. Always so clear looking backward.

Our hopes, dreams, and desires are fast friends to impatience when, looking forward, we strive for it all now. Urgency moves us and we feel the rush of motivation; the need to for it all in the present moment. Our luxurious world has created such an extensive supply of immediate gratification that it doesn’t seem unreasonable to demand it, to feel entitled to it, or to be disappointed when it doesn’t show up when expected. Sometimes our hearts feel that they might burst for the urgency of our desires.

Naturally, we don’t always get what we want when we want it. Frustration sets-in, motivation wanes, and we shift direction toward something shiny that readily appears, seemingly easy, fast, immediate. Wisdom rests in and among those waves below and the rising sun; she is steady and timeless. She calls us to patience and reminds us that all life is subject to a greater rhythm, a timing separate from our passions. Fierce as those passions may be, there are no short-cuts and even our best efforts are subject to the greater forces around us.

In this place, patience is our friend. Patience reminds us of the nuance of timing and the rhythm driving the world. Patience encourages us to sow our seeds widely and work diligently toward our dreams. Patience allows us to let them grow, in time, organically; recognizing that the harvest will come. Patience helps us understand that the nature and timing of the reaping may vary from our expectations but we must push forward anyway. Faithfully. Patiently.


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