Friday, October 31, 2008

Wanting Nothing

I think about patience most when I want something that I do not yet possess. If I lived with the fulfillment of every desire of my heart, I would never think about the virtue of patience.

But the paradoxical thing about patience is that while the need for this virtue comes from a lack of fulfillment, the presence of this virtue, even without the granting of the object of desire, yields fulfillment.

James 1:4 says, "But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."

How neat is that? We realize that we need patience when life is not perfect, when life is far from complete, when we want lots of things that we don't have. And yet the point of patience is not to just "grin and bear it" until our wishes are granted, but to, by practicing patience, find the fulfillment that we crave apart from the object for which we long.

The work of true patience is to make us complete, to make us perfected, to bring wholeness. We want the object of our longing to bring us these things, but oddly enough, it seems that the work of patience itself, regardless of the fulfilment of its object, is what makes us perfect and entire.

I do not know how this can be. But what a beautiful mystery of the faith.