“Quite frankly, God,” I said, “I’m getting a little tired of working on this patience thing. Could we move on to something else?”
Yesterday morning, I had been awakened by my father’s whistling. It’s happy whistling — “O Danny Boy” — evidence of his penchant for Irish music, that tells me he’s up and getting ready for the day.
Most days I listen for it. “Time to get to work,” I say to my girls as I get off the couch and head for the kitchen to fix his breakfast.
But yesterday, I heard it on the monitor in my room. It woke me up.
“O Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling…”
Sometimes he sings it. His singing reminds me of Lee Marvin in “Paint Your Wagon.”
I rolled over and looked at the time. 2:45 AM. Ugh.
When I went down to his room, he was laying out his clothes.
“What are you doing, Dad?” I asked.
“Well, I don’t know,” he said, turning to look at me.
“It’s not even 3 o’clock in the morning,” I told him.
“I know that,” he said — but I don’t think he did.
“Don’t you think you should be sleeping?” I asked.
“That sounds like a good idea,” he replied.
After helping him get back to bed, I went upstairs to my own. Laying there, looking at the ceiling, listening to the monitor, I could hear him rustling around for a few minutes, then quiet, then the heavy breathing of sleep.
I wished I could do that, but sleep never returned for me.
Some time after 4, I came downstairs again and made my coffee. My ever-growing pile of books that I’m working through beckoned me. In addition to daily Bible reading and time with Lancelot Andrewes, my current morning reading consists of
- Charles Williams’ The New Christian Year — a devotion a day.
- Pascal’s Pensées — a pensée or two a day
- Documents of the Christian Church (selected and edited by Henry Bettenson) — a document a day
- Walter Brueggemann’s Sabbath as Resistance — a section a day
- St. Francis de Sales’ Introduction to the Devout Life — a chapter a day
St. Francis irked me yesterday. He said,
Among the virtues we should prefer that which is most conformable to our duty, and not that which is most conformable to our inclination…
My inclination is not towards patience. Mercy, maybe, but not patience. I’d like to swoop in, do some little nice thing for someone who’s hurting, and leave.
This long haul of caregiving is the opposite.
And my patience is in short supply these days.
“Lord, can we move on?” I prayed — but I knew the answer.
I began a good work in you. I’m going to complete it, He replied.
So, when I heard “O Danny Boy” for the second time that morning, I made his breakfast, took his blood pressure, gave him his meds, found the puzzles in the newspaper for him, and tackled another day.