But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control.
– Galatians 5:22-23
One day, I travelled to Dandenong Hospital to visit a friend who would undergo an operation. I planned to come early to pray with her as she had no family member available. I was minutes late. She was taken into the theatre when I arrived. But as I promised to be there in prayer, I stayed on for three hours in the chapel interceding. The operation would take about seven hours in total.
As I was about to leave after my prayers, some people walked into the chapel and invited me for a guided meditation on mindfulness. I welcomed the idea, hoping to relax my overwhelmed spirit. I was also asking the Lord for a divine revelation that day.
As we were guided into quieting our minds and focusing on our breath, we were led to visualise ourselves as a flower, reaching out to the sun and its petals, representing every distraction in the background to gently fall to the ground. I was comfortable following this leading but there was another image that came strongly into my vision – that is of a big winter tree shedding off its autumn leaves, gathering in a heap and then being blown off by the wind.
I shared this with the group. They said it was very poetic. I did not think much of it until at night as I looked at the flyer handed to us on our way out. I saw to my surprise that their theme was a winter tree with falling leaves. Exactly the vision I had! What a divine revelation. What was the Lord telling me?
There are many worries, concerns, sources of anxiety that I need to shed off, to wait patiently for healing, and look forward to the new season.
Patience was not my virtue when I was young. I was impetuous, arrogant, hasty, impulsive. I remember stomping into a general’s office advocating for human rights!
Patience is one of the first fruits that the Holy Spirit wanted me to grow in. And there were innumerable times of testing until I started to get it. Now I can wait for the bus without getting upset, waiting for a client to turn up, waiting for medical treatments, waiting for prayers to be answered.
St Thomas distinguishes patience and long-suffering. Each, he says refers to the ability of the mind not to be disturbed. Patience, properly so–called, endures when evil threatens; long-suffering perseveres when good things are delayed.
Twelve years ago, I made the “mistake” of not choosing to have the technical infrastructure to connect to our then-new house. It cost about $2,000.00 at that time. We used a wireless dongle for years paying about $60.00 monthly for an 8 GB data. Every few years, I would ask and the phone company would tell me there was still a cost involved. A few months ago, I asked again. I was told they could connect without a fee. I could hardly believe it. My fortitude finally paid off.
At the time of writing, I took my granddaughter (aged 9) and grandnephew (aged 7) to Melbourne city during the school holidays. We had a fun day, except on our way home when we stopped by the shops to get some roast chickens for a family gathering. My grandnephew dashed off and disappeared from my view but I was confident he was safe inside the shop.
Walking towards home, my granddaughter noticed something different in his pocket. His new Beyblade (a craze nowadays) had a different performance tip. We just bought one at Myer with a red energy gear, but he was holding on to a yellow one. She quizzed him quite furiously. Until we found out that he opened a packet in the store and took a piece he wanted to add to his new bey blade. I was upset by this and asked him to tell the truth.
In the middle of the road, (the chickens getting colder) there we were trying to get a confession from him! He admitted to his weakness, and I said we needed to fix his error. We went back to the store, hunted for the opened package and took it to the self-service to pay for it. Although I gave him a long sermon on honesty, I wanted to keep his dignity. I let him know that two people are watching – the camera man and Jesus! I led him to ask forgiveness from God and reminded him not to do it again.
That night I thought of my own sins. It is so easy to judge others when they fall, whether they are aged 7 or 97. I prayed not to pass judgment on my grandnephew but instead the grace for him to do the right thing.
I remember how many times I failed the Lord, repeating the same mistakes, falling into the same sin, committing the same error, addicted to its bondage; and the many times God has been patient with me, always forgiving, always loving, always inspiring me to grow in love, compassion and mercy for others too. It made me realise that when I have changed for the better and don’t fall into the same sin, it is not because of my own strength but because of His grace.
(Dina is a counsellor and pastoral worker. You can reach her on 0430 214 917.
If you have concerns about meditation, check the Catholic and Christian websites to discern what is best for you).