I saw this quote today from Henri Nouwen: “The word patience means the willingness to live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.”
Patience can feel super tough to achieve at times (let’s face it, when someone tells you to be patient, does it make you happy or do you want to scream?), but I find it pretty magical.
When I was on a boat five years ago off the coast of Bimini, waiting for wild dolphins to show up, I was full of calm and excitement. Anticipation and faith. Sometimes it would take hours for the dolphins to appear, but I loved every minute of the wait. Each time my group gently dove into the water with them, the dolphins brought wonder and play at a breathtakingly close proximity. When they decided to leave, they were gone in a flash. Who knows why—maybe they had other stuff to do, or they knew we’d experienced just enough of their energy to shift us to a better place, or they wanted to keep us in a state of awe. Whatever the reason, each time I was left with the joy of mutual acceptance.
Years ago, I used to go to a friend’s apartment to give her cat Reiki. Usually, he’d take one look at me and assume his Reiki position right away: lying down on his belly with his head up, front legs stretched out before him like the Sphynx. Other times, I’d arrive in the midst of his zoomies, when he’d race along the walls of the living room in full frisky frenzy. In that case, I’d sit on the couch and quietly drop into my heart and wait. After a few minutes he’d spin off from the walls and land on the couch next to me…and assume the position I knew so well, fully calm and ready.
Recently for the first time, our cat Calla jumped onto my lap and curled up, purring full force while I was watching TV. For me, this was an unbelievably epic event. In the two years since adopting her, Calla had never gotten onto my lap, even though it was what I’d always wanted. Now she does it almost every night, and the head-rubbing love fest puts me over the moon.
I don’t know specifics about the trauma Calla experienced before she came to us, but by the time we brought her home, she’d recovered from several injuries and had spent six months in a rescue. Even though she seemed remarkably well adjusted and affectionate from the moment we brought her home, she’s always been that truly independent kitty who’s never chosen to relax and sleep on us like a mushy lap cat.
Knowing that it took two years for her to get to this “lap” stage touches me deeply. I know she’s been happy this whole time, but now I know things have been unfolding behind the scenes—that trust and comfort were evolving to an even deeper level.
Patience is a partnership. It’s the art of hope, of living a desire to the fullest with faith and respect for the energetic timing of others, ourselves, and the universe, even when it feels like you’re standing still. That’s when energy moves in invisible ways that are later beautifully revealed when it’s for the highest good of all.
In our current world of instant gratification, I could be frustrated that I found significant and wonderfully fulfilling things only later in life, but what’s two years or forty when you know that everything’s unspooling and weaving in its own time, into a tapestry that’s full of rich learning and soul-level evolving. I’ll take the patience that animals teach me over and over again, because where it takes me is unconditional love, an ocean of understanding, and the sweet purr of peace. ❤️