Patience as a Virtue

We had a little lesson in patience this week. Okay, we’ve been having a big lesson in patience this whole year, haven’t we? I don’t know about you, but I think I am finally getting sick of this lockdown — even as an introvert. We’ve been waiting. We’ve been waiting for haircuts and restaurant meals and movie theatres. We’ve been waiting in grocery lineups and online check out queues for the free shipping days. We’ve been waiting to get back to family gatherings and celebrations and hugging. Yes, even me. I’ve been waiting, too.

We had a smaller lesson in patience this week — a simple one that no one really noticed except me. Which was the inspiration for this week’s muse. Let me explain. One of our favourite “snacks” is something called Butterscotch Confetti. It’s easy to make and yummy. I was going to post the recipe, but remembered I already did! So… check that out here. Anyway… the youngest decided to make up a batch of the decadent “squares” (Did you know that Canadians call them “squares” and American’s call them “bars”… total side note but I am just free writing… so, hey what the heck…go on a rabbit trail… Wonder what other countries call such desserts… oh, a muse for anther time….)

Where was I? Oh yeah. Butterscotch squares. So, when you make these things, you melt all kinds of yummy goodness in a pot and then you have to “wait until you can hold your hand on the bottom of the pot before adding your coloured marshmallows”. Herein lies the lesson in patience. Wait. It’s a delicate balance, because if you don’t wait, your marshmallows melt and you get a sticky mess… I’ve seen it done. But if you wait too long, then your other ingredients start to harden into the fudge-like dessert they are supposed to be… without your marshmallows. You get it. Now, I have a fairly high heat bearing feel, so I tend to be impatient and throw in the coloured package of squishes fairly early. So far they have not melted away yet, though. And so I marveled as the pot sat on the stove as my daughter “waited” for it to cool. I usually have something to fill in my time so never have I “waited” for this task to occur… at least not that I have noticed before. Hence, this week’s muse.

Patience. The old time phrase “patience is a virtue” was never actually quoted as such in the Bible. Patience is not a “virtue”. Or is it?

“Hot tempers cause arguments, but patience brings peace.” Prov. 15:18. “Love is patient. Love is kind” 1 Corinthians 4:13, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Rom 12:12. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Eph. 4:2. And that is only a sampling of the verses that talk about this all important fruit of the spirit. Obviously, patience is something we need to work on in our lives. Let’s be honest, though, it’s a difficult one. To the mom who has the two year old who wants to put on her own shoes when you are already late leaving for your appointment. To the parent who has the wayward teenager who must learn the hard way. To the senior who has to care for the body who doesn’t work the way it used to. Sometimes there is no answer and we just have to go through it. Then patience is not in the waiting …but in the day to day, one foot in front of the other kind of patience which is linked arm and arm with endurance.

Learning patience is not simply an emotional response to a trying situation, either. It involves your belief system, your physical ability to self control and self regulate as well as your thoughts about gratitude. Does your impatience lead to anger, or can you hold your breath, count to 10 and take control of the time? Are you grateful for where you are now or are you waiting for the next best thing…now. Do you dump those marshmallows too early?? It takes practice.

I discovered that the word “virtue” is used to describe a trait or quality that is deemed to be morally good. In other words, it is a behavior that shows high moral standards: doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong. Is patience worthy of “virtue” then? Perhaps. It certainly is a Biblical truth that should be practiced and “worked on”. Especially if you want perfectly decadent butterscotch confetti.

Seasons of Change

As many of you know, our little urban garden is up and running again. Thanks to lockdown and Covid-19, we were ahead of our game and started seeds indoors this year. As always, there are learning curves with such things and we’ve had various degrees of success. Traditionally, the long weekend in May is a fairly “safe” time to transition seedlings to outside. So, last week we did just that… off our little seed babies went into the ground with high hopes of bountiful growth. And then it snowed.

Frost damage on Corn crop (photo from agriculture.com)

I see my neighbour (who has a beautiful garden) promptly shielded her tomatoes with warming pots. A seasoned farmer I follow on Instagram threw tarps over her raised beds in a last ditched effort to protect her asparagus that finally will be big enough to harvest after waiting for three long years. We did not. Our second attempt at scraggly corn shoots look very shriveled. The others may survive with a little prayer and a lot of hope.

“Farming” is a risky business. I recently searched out what our “growing zone” is, as this seems to be a fact I should know. The website starts out with “…To determine zone number, Canada uses a formula that consists of 7 climate variables. Canada’s hardiness map is divided into 9 zones…” and continues on for about 9 paragraphs and ends with “…website includes several links intended to clarify the hardiness zones, but which seem instead to be very complicated and confusing.” 1 Ya think?? Hats off to the men and women who make their livelihood on the whims of the weather and their wage on the likelihood of storms and forest fires. They say that in Canada, we can have all four seasons in one week… and it is true. Weather is unpredictable. Life is unpredictable too.

Which had me musing about the seasons of life this week. Psychology tells us there are “stages” we go through in our average life span — seasons of growth and development, seasons of change. Many of you have eluded to these in your comments as we muse along together. That’s the beauty of exploring and sharing our faith journeys, too… we encourage each other as we go. The scriptures are scattered with references, not only to the physical four seasons we see throughout the year, but also in our “spiritual seasons” as well. God reminds us through nature how our world is in constant change… and He designed it that way.

I often question: why? Why did He design it that way? Why do things have to change? Why do we have to grown old? Why has He allowed the corona virus to infect the world at this moment? Why did He choose to come to earth at the moment He did? What will the future hold for us? Seasons of bitter cold, and seasons of preparation, growth and warmth. Each season holds something to offer, but none of them are ever perfect. Weeds grow just as rapidly in summer as the sunflowers do. Yet, the constant through it all is God alone. James 1:17 tells us there is no variation or shadow of change in the Father. We can take courage in this thought. Even in the midst of life’s seasonal changes.

My zinnias (a first time plant for me!) have sprouted cute little dichotomous leaves all tucked up in a row. I’m not sure how the frost will affect them. I’m also not sure what life will hold for us in the next year, or the next month, or even this week ahead… but we move forward through the season, and grow and adapt just as God designed it to be. As will you. Blessings fellow seedlings!

  1. (2020, https://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/askagardener/plant-hardiness-zones/)

Flowers Near Me

Have you ever walked through a grocery store and happened upon the fresh flower market? The aroma hits you like a wave of spring, as the colours create the canvas for some obscure collage of pastels with pops of red and green. The bouquets all wrapped up in crinkly cellophane or dotted wrapping paper. Buckets of fresh cut stems and little pots of flowering plants. Petite teddy bears and foil balloons with tiny cards to send wishes of joy, sympathy and love. It certainly is a feast for the senses. A friend of mine recently posted that she succomed to the calling and bought herself a potted beauty in pink! A personal pick-me-up, she wrote. So many of us are anticipating the fresh coming of spring, with its hope for warmer weather, fragrant earth, and a blip of colour peeking out of the garden. Especially after a year of lock downs, stay-at-home orders and Covid-19.

I never used to like flowers in the garden. Gardens should be practical. Food and useful stuff. Sure, I love a beautiful English Rose Garden, or a field of happy sunflowers, but anything more than a few potted geraniums to keep away the bugs, and it’s fine with me. This year, I am mellowing. Or maybe I am just experimenting with the whole sow and see theme. This year, I picked up flower seeds. Last year we tried a few Candula in hopes to make herbal “tea” – but the few blossoms we tried were not worth the brewing. Our sunflowers were tall, but few, and quickly eaten up by squirrels.

This year I picked up dahlia and nasturtium (you can eat those…practical!). We might even try wild mixes of sweet pea and butterfly-loving wildflowers. Why not?! Maybe I need to break out of my practical mode and be brave (ooh #wordoftheyear) and try my hand at something “impractical”. Or just convince myself that flowers are practical. Self care, perhaps? A personal pick me up? Maybe these flower fun-facts will convince me they belong in my urban garden:

  • nasturtium, pansies, roses, sunflowers and violets are all edible… as are daisies, dandelions, hibiscus and honeysuckle (Check out our post on dandelion honey… so yum!)
  • broccoli is actually a flower!! (also edible…duh)
  • sunflowers are “hyperaccumulators” and suck up all kinds of toxins in the soil… they were even used to clean up the nuclear disasters at Chernobyl and Fukushima (athensscienceobserver.com)
  •  the juice from bluebell flowers was used historically to make glue
  • in Holland in the 1600’s, tulips bulbs were more valuable than gold

All this flower fun makes me wonder… did God just have fun with flowers? Throw splashes of colour here and there? Add weird shapes and patterns just to be creative? Hey, why not make some of them edible while we are at it? Or be able to suck up some some toxic waste that He knew we would mess up His world with in the future? An interesting muse… and a question I may add to my Heaven list for when I get there and have coffee with Adam and Eve. The science gal in me wants to just look at the flowering facts of pollination and seed and fruit production. But why not make practical things pretty too? Flowers. You’ve got to admit they are nice to look at, aren’t they? And most of them smell pretty good. Perhaps they are God’s personal pick-me-ups, too. Created just for fun, to be enjoyed by the quiet observer who might just plant a few in the garden — just to sow and see.

photo via littlehouseoffour.com