A Little Book of Wisdom
Jean Moreau’s Little Books of Wisdom Series™
… Helpful Insights for the Modern Age…
“This series is dedicated to all of my Teachers. My deepest thanks to you for your immeasurable contributions to my education.”
Table of Contents
An Introductory Note from Jean
A Personal Story
Why Value Patience?
Some Notable Opinions & Quotes About Patience…
What Do The Great Religions Say About Patience?…
Questions for Reader Reflection
Final Thoughts About Being Patient
Unsung heroes we’ve all heard of, but unsung virtues? I can think of no better definition for the virtue we will consider in this booklet – patience. Without it, little of lasting value can be accomplished.
I am not an ordinary monk and you are not an ordinary reader. “But, how can you, a monk, know anything about what I face from day to day, cloistered as you are in your serene environment?” you question. Let me tell you this — as administrator of a great abbey, I have need daily for patience, compassion, and forgiveness. I can further answer your question with this quote from the first volume of my memoires in The Abbey Chronicles.
“I know that some think that an abbey is just a retreat from the world. I can tell you that it is hardly that. It is, in fact, quite the opposite. It is an embracing of life in all of its depth, in all of its complexities. What can be more difficult for a person than to be alone with him or herself without distraction, hour after hour, day after day? Think about what challenges there are in living in close proximity to the same group of men, private and enclosed, for life. I can tell you that there are many — as in any family.”
How fulfilling, yet how difficult it can be. How often we are challenged in our little community with anger, pettiness, jealousies – the gamut of human emotion. As a writer, it became important to me to write a series aimed at highlighting virtues that you and I and my community, as spiritual people, can develop and employ daily. Opportunities to utilize their wonderful energies surround us continually, and we know their value in making us better human beings. More importantly, they lead us to Awareness, the key to realizing and fulfilling our Divine connection. In the Divine, we learn to open ourselves to Truth and our hearts to love. We become fully human.
That has led me to create the Little Books of Wisdom™ series. The virtues I have chosen for the series are living concepts, and I offer this one as an interactive “living” booklet of sorts, one that you can continue to refer to from time to time.
“In so testing my patience, there lay the opportunity for its development.”
That is something I wrote in one of the books covering my “adventures” in the monastery that I detail in The Abbey Chronicles series, written at a time when patience was needed in my life and ultimately became my good friend.
On one of those occasions, as I was finishing at University in Brest, I had become much more aware of the notion of a religious vocation for myself. It was growing stronger. That intuitive voice had first “surfaced” as I was passing through my freshman year in high school and had never quite left me. But it had mostly remained in the background.
I was pretty popular in school and had a lot of friends, but only a few close ones. I did the usual university things – studied hard, of course, but also probably drank too much, dated a lot, and got into occasional trouble. Nothing serious, but enough to know what I didn’t want to keep doing.
Those of you who have known me through my writing know that at university there was one special friend, one whom I still treasure until this very day. Her name is Elena. I became very attached to her in the closing months of our senior year. I should say we became very attached to one another.
When we left university, we weren’t ready to commit or settle down as we both had ideas on what we wanted to do with our lives after school. Elena is a talented artist and she was interested in pursuing that. For me, there was a chance to work and make some money. There was still also the strong temptation to follow what the voice had said before about a vocation.
I will admit that I was confused. I felt that maybe I needed to act on what the voice was saying, and I even went so far as to pick up the phone to talk to my religious recruiter to perhaps set a time for entering the seminary. I felt in my heart of hearts that that was my future, but there was more than a tiny doubt left in me. I didn’t make the call and I continued to pray.
(Yes, my recruiter! To be honest, I had been “recruited” by an order to become one of their priests for some time. I had been encouraged to go into a seminary at age 18, coming out of high school, or lycee as it is known in France. I listened to the pitch, but was sure that that was not the right thing for me, at least not then.)
In the months that followed graduation from university, as I said, I was strongly tempted again to pick up that phone and “enlist.” The thought never left me, but I had noticed a change. Even though the voice was still with me and resolute, it was counseling now something different. It wasn’t changing its tune on what I should do with my life, but, incredibly, it seemed, it was telling me now was not the right time.
Suddenly, I wasn’t sure if I should trust the voice. How can this be? I had thought finally that I was ready to move on to my vocation as a priest. The voice was troubling on that score, but at the same time there was something reassuring about it. I eventually came to see, through lots of consideration and prayer, that all that it was saying was now not to be impatient, to wait a bit, see the world, see how things work “out there” and then come in to where you belong. Be patient, whether it be for six months or six years.
I listened. And that has made all of the difference. I came into the priesthood a much more well rounded man and thus priest, much more capable of identifying and helping others according to my own real life experience. I had learned many things about managing life, about how difficult or fragmented daily life can be, how faith is a moving target, how one size does not fit all, how compassion and understanding, and, yes, patience, can help me and all of us offer so much more to the world.
My waiting and not doing things in a rush, listening to the wise counsel of my intuition, gave me the time I needed to mature; and, with that maturity came a satisfaction and an ability to contribute that I could not have enjoyed had I pushed on, impatiently, with that phone call all of those years ago.
I’d like to end this part of my story completing a quote partially cited below by Teilhard de Chardin, the French paleontologist-priest. It is an insight, a viewpoint on the personal yet universal evolution through which we all, as a spiritual people, are obligated to pass. It is like a prayer. See what you think.
“Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We should like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability — and that it may take a very long time.
“And so I think it is with you; your ideas mature gradually—let them grow, let them shape themselves, without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow. Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be. Give Our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.”
And one more beautiful prayer that sums up so well our relationship with our Creator:
“Waiting patiently in expectation is the foundation of the spiritual life…open, expectantly to the present moment, standing confidently in the presence of God, in active waiting.”
The word patience comes from the Latin root patient, which can be translated into English as “endurance or submission.”
That description can give us a valuable perspective on what it is to be patient. The connection with endurance seems evident. But submission…that appears strange at first, even out of place, until we have a closer look. To what are we submitting?
For good things to mature and ripen and become something positive in our lives, we need time. If we hurry to experience or conclude something too early, we may miss the lesson intended or miss other opportunities that come along. We also might choose unwisely in our haste. It takes both endurance and submission to accomplish this – in short, patience.
There has been much written about patience and deservedly so. Patience does not come naturally!…
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