Waiting Well

Published this week in the Hughson Chronicle-Denair Dispatch.

I do not cross Hatch Rd and Santa Fe Ave every day, but when I do so now, it feels surreal to travel through without stopping. This past year, like many Hughson residents, we chose our route home based on how far the cars on Santa Fe backed up behind the stop sign at 5 p.m. We loved how free and open Geer Road was, but did not love how far out of the way it took us. Whitmore Ave was not bad, but when you live closer to Hatch, the extra miles felt longer than they ought.

The project to put in a stoplight came up because it was needed. A problem arose out of a good change, more people living in Hughson. The city had to adjust. Good happens, tension arises, and the whole organism adjusts. Much like what happens in everyone’s life, whether a new marriage, a new baby, a new home, or a new job.

Adjustment is painful. It hurts to adjust because we stretch and strain our capabilities, finding new ways to make the changes work with the rest of our lives.

First, they closed the intersection for the roadwork. That was painful. It seemed closed a long time. It reopened and the city had to wait for Caltrans to do their work. Then the rains came. When the region dried out, the city waited again for Caltrans. That work happened. The intersection closed and the city picked up their paint cans.

How do we wait well when someone around us is adjusting to a change? I emailed Jaylen French, the Community Development Director, to ask about the road. He explained the process, the goodness and inconvenience of rain, and the steps to complete the project. If someone in your life is adjusting to a change, and it impacts you, it may be okay to simply ask him for the information you cannot see yourself.

“How are you adjusting to X?”

“Tell me more about your plans.”

When I know more about the person’s experience, I understand him better, and I find it easier to be patient. It is true that knowledge can only go so far. By and large, the bulk of waiting well comes from choices we make.

We can make choices in perspective: what new experiences have you had since the change? I experienced the peace of driving on rural roads rather than the congested Ceres section of Hatch Road. An antique I had my eye on was on clearance at Selective Antiques. Without the road closure, I would not have seen it. If your partner is working long hours at a new job, maybe this gives you more time to learn a new skill or have one-on-one experiences tucking your kids into bed. There may be an unlooked-for good as you wait.

We can make a choice to be patient. I grow impatient when I want things done in my time frame. My time seems to move more quickly than my husband’s time. Often, I need to recalibrate my expectations to what is realistic. It may feel like days have passed since I emailed. In reality, it has only been 24 hours and the etiquette is to allow 48 hours for a business response to an email. If the person does not know this etiquette, I must adjust my expectations even more. Sometimes, patience is a matter of letting go. I let go of worry, let go of my urgency, and focus on the potential positive good.

We can make a choice to be merciful. Maybe it should have been completed sooner. Maybe California’s bureaucracy is too cumbersome, and it slows things down. It can be good to recognize where weaknesses lie (especially in ourselves) so long as we do not allow them to overwhelm our experience. When we let the thoughts of how hard or inconvenient it takes over, it is all too easy to forget how temporary the situation is. It was not always this way. One day it will be better. Now we have a traffic light.

After the thing is all over, I can grow by asking myself, “did I wait well?”


Weekend Links 9.2.17

Eleven endnotes to enlighten your off-time.

‘Tis the Season:

It’s my favorite time of year! Time to watch the marketing frenzy, time to be told in order to celebrate we must spend, time to see American resent that retail worker must work on Thanksgiving but do not shed a tear over movie theater staff or police officers, time for Christian get up in arms about the commercialism of Christmas while they themselves go to just one mass on Christmas and deck their halls with Pottery Barn. Where is the medieval spirit?

  1. For those of us who delight in material gift giving (damn Love Languages) check out what you can buy from religious orders before you shop at Target.
  2. Halloween products are out at the Dollar Tree and Raley’s. In the spirit of the holiday creep, enjoy this article defining another animal symbol. Your way through Medieval art and Halloween decor.

Now, the less light-hearted…

On or against religion:

Wikipedia defines iconoclasm as “the social belief in the importance of the destruction of usually religious icons and other images or monuments, most frequently for religious or political reasons.”

Merriam-Webster defines it as “the doctrine, practice, or attitude of an iconoclast.” So helpful, iconoclast is defined as

  • a person who destroys religious images or opposes their veneration

  • a person who attacks settled beliefs or institutions

  1. New Advent’s Catholic encyclopedia will tell you the history of iconoclastic persecutions in the Catholic Church. If salvation history teaches us anything about how things connect in time, it is worth understanding the history of iconoclasm from new Pharoah’s obliterating the images of their predecessors, to religious persecution to this modern political ideological warfare. Who are the victims in each case?
  2. Lately, we see symbols associated with racism or sexism being toppled in public parks, and even, less dramatically, in Catholic schools.

Some symbols should go, I agree. But rational thought is required to determine which ones. Teach required to demonstrate the value of others. Why we have a Harvest Goddess in Turlock but the Ten Commandments removed defies understanding. Some times I think our society is more comfortable with pagan images because they do not believe in them, whereas their heart strings tug with guilt at Christian symbols they wish to dismiss.

3. We have a tendency to reduce people to symbols. Thus the boy who wore the gray becomes a symbol of racism. If racism must be overcome, symbols honor racism must be destroyed. Along with that, we blot out our history and dishonor those who were just doing their best. We close our ears at hearing the other person’s story. This modern iconoclasm is disturbing to behold.


On earth:

  1. We are praying for the people in Texas and this devastating hurricane. With each tragedy, thanks to social media (which is not obsessed with Trump like mainstream media), we can hear stories of heroism. Here is one such story in the water with a Catholic priest doing his duty. Mothers do not stop mothering, priests do not stop the sacraments. This Catholic priest fulfills the call during Hurricane Harvey. Beautiful!
  2. Other stories in the past of heroes doing heroic things. Heroes are not defined by vocation or gender. This article tells the story of a group of nuns giving their lives to save children.
  3. I had hoped to find a collection of photos from the eclipse like this. Amazing!

On Relationships

  1. When people argue they will not have more children because they desire to give a greater share of resources to the one or two children they have, I wonder if they are thinking of the big picture? What happens when the parents are aging and the care falls on one grown child’s shoulders? What else is this child missing out that other generations may have taken for granted? (These thoughts circle around those who chose, not those for whom there has not been a choice). This article in praise of cousins would be great except modern mobility spreads families to greater distances. If the greatest generation has a greater number of kids, then their children have the trendy number (1-3), and then generation X doesn’t marry or marries but has no children, you end up with no cousins at all.
  2. This piece sums up my experience of how I need to relate deeply to people or not at all. Growing up, I never knew there were so many other deep women in the world. I am finding them these days thanks to the internet and a great blogging/podcast community.
  3. Lastly, be patient! It is hard but think of intentional waiting as training muscles, to prepare you for the things we cannot control.