Growing up I always remember my mother telling me, "Patience is a virtue." That was because I got so impatient waiting for special events like Christmas, Easter and my birthday to arrive. After what seemed like a eternity they always did come but seemed to depart much faster than it took for them to get there. In school, our teachers would always remind us that is was the tortoise that won the race by being slow, steady, focused and patient.
I don't think I've ever learned more about patience than I have the last 8 years watching the beautiful and courageous Decorah Eagles on their Ustream channel. If any of you have followed my blog over the last 3 years you know that a year does not go by without my mentioning them at least once. Through funding from a program called The Raptor Project, cameras have been set up high in the trees on the grounds of a working farm and fish hatchery in Decorah, Iowa. There we are treated to a bird's eye view (no pun intended) of the lives of this remarkable and beautiful pair of bald eagles as they return every year to the same tree to repair and rebuild their birthing nest, lay their eggs, hatch their chicks, and raise them until they are old enough to go off on their own. As remarkable as these creatures are when it comes to parenting - we humans could take a few lessons from them - what I have been most struck by this year is their patience.
From the moment the first egg is laid, there is one parent or the other on the nest 24/7. One day I took some time to just watch the mother eagle as she kept her eggs warm, rising only to roll them from time to time and rearrange herself. The rest of the time she sat. And sat. And sat. There was such a presence of patience and peace about her. She was keenly aware of what was going on around her, always on guard for any threat to her eggs, but looking at her I realized I was envious of her ability to sit still and be totally present to the moment and her surroundings. She was living in the moment, doing what she needed to do, not worrying about having to be somewhere else, or about completing and endless to-do list. She just sat, serene, regal, patient and, from all apparent appearances, at peace.
Ah wouldn't it be nice if we could all find that kind of patience and peace in our everyday life? When I am sitting in meditation, I can guarantee you that I do not even come close to Mother Eagle. If I could get even 1/10th closer to being able to be that patient, what a gift that would be. Then I was reminded that in the garden, just like in that nest, the plants and trees do exactly the same thing. They grow. They flourish. They sit in silent splendor and do their thing. It is only we humans that defy nature by trying to be everywhere and do everything at once.
So maybe this week we should try to take a page out of Mother Eagle's playbook and make some time to just be, to sit in stillness, totally aware of the present moment, and patiently wait for the Universe to lay its wisdom on us. Think what we could hatch with that kind of connection!
And so it is.