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Good Morning Families, today is Friday April 3rd 2020 and it is now time for our moment of SEL.
As we complete our week thinking about a sense of loss, particularly in this time I would like us to consider the loss of the art of patience. Patience is a virtue. Actually, it’s not technically a virtue, it’s more like a combination of several virtues. To be patient one must understand mercy, generosity, tolerance, humility, and certainly self-control. Patience is familiar with perseverance and prudence. Patience is also present in the virtues of hope, faith, and love.
And, unfortunately, patience seems to be in short supply, particularly as our nation faces grave if not profound loss. This loss is creeping across our country, limiting social connectivity, sickening many, assaulting our economy; and when it’s over, many of us will have paid the ultimate sacrifice. It is scary. I feel fear. I’m not afraid of my fear, but it is uncomfortable.
I’ve already expressed that I feel sadness. You know I feel anger. Fear, anger, sadness, that’s like the trifecta of discomfort. And in the face of this, I am actually being asked to use a skill that so many of our leaders either fail to model for us, or simply don’t have.
The skill of patience.
Patience is a skill we ask our students to use every day. Here are some very common phrases I hear teachers say all the time to help students practice building their skills of patience. “You just went to the bathroom.” “Lunch is always at 11:05” “Slow down” “Walking feet” “One at a time” “There’s no prize for first”. We want our kids to learn patience because we know that they will benefit from having this skill. But patience is tricky and though we may want it for others we may not grant it to ourselves. It is amazing how quickly we can forget to use the skill of patience when we invoke words like crisis, emergency, deadline, or in this case pandemic. I mean, those words push against patience because they work to invoke the potential of loss. Inviting sadness, fear, and anger to come to the table.
And when the fear of loss is present in our nation, leaders have often spurred citizens to action by calling upon “heroes”, “fighters”, “defenders of freedom” and this week, for me personally I was labeled “essential to national security”. I mean really. I can’t think of a time in our nation’s history when anyone has ever said, “You know who will protect us? The professional school counselors!” Look don’t get me wrong; I’d love it. But, really?
Look all of these are truly inspiring words and they often elicit truly inspiring responses. However, true heroes and fighters and defenders, and especially the most essential, understand patience.
Take the fighter, in the ring. Were he to impulsively leap forward and swing wildly at the first bell in short time he would likely become tired or simply get knocked the heck out.
Take the hero who cavalierly throws herself into the fray, only to be instantly mowed down because she took no time to truly survey the scene. Was that even the time or the fight to be had?
Consider the defenders of freedom, who, without forethought or goal exhaust all resources and energy at the first sign of threat, only to be trod upon by the feeblest of aggressors, because they had spent all their means to fight.
Or even those, who were suddenly declared “essential to national security” not because they have ever been considered that before but because it is a convenient label designed to stir the soul to act without thought. What newly assigned duties would these suddenly essentials succeed in?
Without patience, none of these folks would be successful. Patience is in the moments between the recognition of the need for action and the execution of action. It doesn’t have to be a long time, but it has to be an intentional time. A time when the person who knows they must act, considers what actions are necessary. When he or she considers the steps, they need to take in order to act, and when they give pause to consider both the consequences of action and the consequences of inaction.
Patience is indeed something special, and again, there is little for us to model patience on. So, I would encourage you to become the model of patience. Consider the virtues of tolerance, humility, self-control, generosity. Ask yourself, what would my day be like if, today, before I made any big actions I stopped and said the words, humility, generosity, tolerance, and self-control.
This is asking a lot. We are facing an enemy that generates sadness, anger, and fear. All of those, in me, promote the opposite of patience, impatience. The immediate need to act and impulsively run down those uncomfortable feelings. But that is not the way to fight this enemy. That is not the way we will beat this back. Temperance is the way. Self-control is the way. Generosity is the way. Humility is the way. Patience is the way.
Of course, medicine is also the way. Sweet, sweet medicine. And that medicine is coming! In 10 months. So, yes, patience will be a part of that medicine too. We can do it. We will settle on the right course of action. We will not be complacent, or helpless, or victims. We will not wallow in our situation, or be stunted by fear, that is not who we are.
We can be the models of patience for our kids. It will be hard. I will still feel sadness and anger and fear. I will face loss. We all will. But we will also be given the opportunity to rediscover our connection to mindfulness, to tolerance, to humility, to self-control, to generosity, to mercy, to patience.
I wish you the very best and look forward to connecting in any way we can, on Monday.
May your thoughts and feelings be with you.