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It’s early on a beautiful summer morning. Just as I’ve finished doing all these little things— like waking

up, praying, making the bed, drinking water, taking Fannie around the block, drinking water, doing 22

minutes of classical stretch with Miranda Esmonde-White on PBS, drinking water, making a pour-over,

dusting the coffee table, petting the cat, reheating the mug of coffee, gathering up what I need (two pens

in case one runs out and two pairs of glasses in case the clouds come)—to take a seat on the porch swing on our

front porch, and open my big Book with the broken binding, it’s right then, the power mower revs up.

Looking across the street, I notice it’s big enough to mow two dozen acres, but back and forth it goes, up and down the little stretch of median, drowning out the sweet chirps of the birds I had the joy of hearing for less than two seconds. Do birds get irritated?

And just as I finish scribbling down the run-on sentence and little paragraph above in an attempt to go Zen and stay seated to finish my Devotions then get some writing done—the mower stops. Ahh…

But so have my thoughts. This is probably a good thing.

Patience is the hardest of virtues. Don’t you think? In the moment of silence that follows, I’m convinced.

But never mind that, a different mower has now started up. This time it’s a push mower, not as loud as the rider because I can still hear the bird songs. Had they stopped?

There is a “little way”* through these small days of mine, as St. Therese of Lisieux calls it, and there is no other way for me than a “childlike” surrender to God’s Way. And to more patience. Whether I lie down or wake up at 3:00 AM, or sit here on the porch swing, I will lay down my life and try not to second guess God.

From behind our house, loud grinding starts up from the workers who are expanding the neighbor’s coach house. I try to let go and ignore the noise as I see the clouds of debris rising from across the street and a fog of cement particles blowing down our driveway toward the street.

Todd comes to the door, giving a report on all this, as if I may have gone deaf and blind? just as a riding mower begins a duet with the push mower.

I can taste dust…I sneeze. He closes the door, but I remain seated on this fine summer morning in July, a most beautiful month in Milwaukee. I am determined. To sit here. On our front porch to read and write as the sun is shining and the birds are singing somewhere, and my eye is twitching.

I sneeze again. And I think it’s no wonder the coffee table needed dusting.

I don’t remember ever noticing all this summertime racket as a child. When did I become so conscious of leaf blowers and lawn mowers and machines that grind through cement? When did that happen?

Fannie stirs from behind the swing. I had forgotten she was there. Why is it that birds and children and dogs seem practically oblivious to all these little obstacles?

Yesterday, on a phone call with a friend who’s going through a tough time, we ended our conversation praying for just that. Patience. She had sighed and said, “I need more patience.”

“Me too,” I said. Then we prayed. For more patience. I knew it was a dangerous prayer at the time and said as much. It’s like praying for more love. How can God answer those prayers without bringing along ornery people and lawnmowers?

But these are the prayers of greater faith. They are necessary.

Todd opens the door again and laughs at all the ruckus. “Pancakes?” he asks. Fannie responds, rising just as a biker rides past bringing the sound of a child’s laughter from his bucket seat. Such a sweet little sound.

I listen to it echo in my ears then wait, exhaling in the silence just in time for the high powered leaf blower to start up. And I have remained here long enough to hear this outdoor summer symphony come to an end.

As the quiet descends, the birdsongs have never sounded sweeter. When someone’s car alarm goes off I have to laugh. Do you think God plays little pranks sometimes like my dad used to, just to remind us to lighten up? To laugh more? And to assure us He sees us? Psalm 32 says in verse 8 that He will counsel us with His loving eye. And I’m reminded once again. It’s true. And you know what?

I think I have more patience!

I used to put these little notes in Todd’s lunch each day. He’d put them up over the sink at work. When he retired he brought a few home. ❤️

*Story of a Soul, the Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux, third edition, 1996.

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