Hurry up and wait.

I woke this morning with a kink in my neck, and it never really went away, in spiIMG_0564 orange flowerte of many treatments including a thorough and deep massage by my friend who is staying here. When you are in pain, the hours pass slowly. I was lying on my bed a lot or taking walks, and thinking. I know I shouldn’t be typing at a computer, but — I am. While I was resting I read a line about Virginia Woolf, that she wrote in her diary every night, because she didn’t feel that anything had really happened unless she wrote it down.

In the morning I did my usual route on the bike path, following the advice of my chiropractor long ago who said that when you are walking “every step is like a spinal adjustment,” and as therapeutic. And I thought more about Metropolitan Anthony’s words I quoted recently about how to have an intense life.

I took pictures with my cell phone, even though the sun was a little too bright. I walked up the next street over, behind our house, the street where the people live who sing Chinese karaoke for the neighborhood, and who ran their leaf blower at 7:00 a.m. last Saturday. I wanted to write down their house number in case there is a next time with the leaf blower.IMG_0366 trees from CC

And I took this picture of the tree line. That Dr. Suess Tree is the redwood that dropped needles in our pool when we had a pool. My pine tree is the next one to its right. The other trees are in other yards in the neighborhood. I’m glad I don’t live in a new development where all the trees are young and short.

But living in a neighborhood of any sort requires patience. I have had yappy dogs next door for years, and I didn’t get too bothered by them until Mr. Glad died, and then I became irritable. My priest confessor warned me that this would happen, but when I lost my patience with the dogs who yipped and yapped nonstop every time I went into my yard, I didn’t repent. I started thinking about how some people have poisoned dogs, and I understood.

Then when I was standing in church on the Feast of the Transfiguration, the realization came to me that my attitude toward the dogs was the real problem. St. Herman or St. Seraphim would have made friends with the dogs, even through the fence, while I had not even thought of praying for them, who were after all only doing what is natural for dogs. My own angry thoughts were making a racket in my soul that was much nIMG_0553 berriesoisier than any dumb creature’s barking.

For a week I did pray for them, and for their owner; I knew she didn’t know what to do about their incessant outcry either. Then for three days while great tumult was happening in my yard, the poor pups probably didn’t know what to think, and if they were barking no one would have been able to hear it. After that, they were gone. Yes, their owner and they have moved to another town.

Having patience can be an intense activity. I think there must be a connection to the scripture, “Strive to enter into that rest.” When Met. Anthony tells us to “make haste,” I trust this is what he is talking about. I’m not too sure that his exhortation is for me right now, because any kind of hurrying or striving sounds like what I am trying to get away from.

He has said many other things about time and managing it to God’s glory, and I will be musing over more of his words here soon. For this evening, when I walked again at dusk, I was more restful about accepting the intensity, the struggle that has been given me. I don’t see any way to avoid it, if I wanted to.

IMG_0364 s.f. a.m.

I also have to accept the necessity of waiting. As many people have pointed out, there are lessons and pictures of my wider life, in this suburban back yard and town. On my evening walk the light was just right for photography, so most of these pictures were taken then.

Only yesterday I was complaining about my inferior tall sunflowers, but today my shorter variety is blooming, and looking cute. I just had to wait a little longer for it.

12 thoughts on “Hurry up and wait.

  1. I love the story about the dogs and you praying for them. I have often thought about the saints who made friends with wild animals. I always used to say that when I got to heaven I wanted to hug a bear 🙂 Thank you for sharing.


  2. I so needed this post Gretchen. Circumstances seem to pop up and I get so aggravated and out of patience. Thank you for reminding me to pray for yapping dogs. That is the best advice I have heard this week.
    I wish you a peaceful day.


  3. I believe that after a great loss, such as losing a spouse, there is a heightened sensitivity that leads to irritability or inability to tolerate things that would not have been a problem before….It is eight years since my husband died and I am only now becoming able to read anything serious. Earlier, the attempt to do so would make me want to scream out loud, at the very least. I think I am lucky because where I live houses are far enough apart that one doesn’t hear much, though dogs barking can travel! But our neighbor dogs do not bark incessantly. Like my little dog Bo, they bark at wildlife and not much more.

    I am a Christian but do many Buddhist practices and the sort of meditation that simply follows the breath has helped me very much. Also, when I have a relatively minor ache or pain, focusing on it with compassion and telling that body part, “I am here for you” and other similar things seems to help. Also, I have a lot of arthritis in my neck and was given a set of simple exercises to do to strengthen the muscles in the neck. They are just pushing in a direction and pushing back with my hand at the same time, very gently. I push back, to the right, to the left, forward and forward and up….I haven’t had that pain in years. But the cause of your problem might have been something quite different, of course.

    The book which helped me most after Paul’s death was Grieving Mindfully: A Compassionate and Spiritual Guide to Coping with Loss Jul 1, 2005
    by Sameet M. Kumar PhD


  4. Hi there! Just checking in on you! There were five dachshunds living next door to us at our home in Alabama. I truly disliked them. Every time I came outside they barked (yapping barks) at me. Sammy, our Great Pyrenees, simply ignored them. Though I never thought to poison them I did think of spraying them with the water hose! Never once thought to pray for them. Warmest hugs to you.


  5. Your openness in challenging yourself to change your thinking and exercise weaker virtues has made you a rare and wonderful example as a mother. Thank you!

    (But I’m still glad you don’t have to be patient with this particular irritation anymore.)


  6. Lessons on patience are always needed and appreciated. I do appreciate your candor in voicing your times of irritation. Taking thoughts captive and turning them around is a difficult and tedious job but always worth the effort.


  7. The birds have come and nibbled designs into the sunflowers you gave me to grow.
    I am always having to seek to be quiet within too without all the co-operation I would like to have from the rest of the world….


  8. “My own angry thoughts were making a racket in my soul that was much noisier….” Of all that you wrote about here, many of which clung to me, this one pierced me…for my good. (And the angry thoughts were not directed to barking dogs or even such creatures as that either.)

    I hope you are doing well today.


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