Please God Give me Patience—and do it right now!

That was the old Mark Twain adage—true today as it was 100 years ago.

In our busy lives today, patience is often not something we have much time for, yet deep down we know that our life is not a race to the finish line.

More importantly, we realize that rushing ahead often means missing out on the beauty, joy and love around us every step on our journey.  It is tempting to call it the restlessness of youth, except some of us have been so busy rushing through life that we can only savor the few times we did stop and listen to the quiet.

I remember, in my own case, when that realization hit me.  I was standing in the cathedral grove at Muir Woods with my children.  The silence, the majesty of those ancient living things, and the realization that they live so long by pure and perfect grace. Now my children are adults and I still savor those few rare times of silence as I held them tight wondering how many such examples of pure and perfect grace did I miss by rushing to beat the traffic home.

Stop blubbering and listen:

St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, Danville, California is one of twelve parishes in the Diocese of California searching for a new Rector.  While these parishes each have different characteristics that make them unique, they share common bonds in more ways than one.

I’m not talking about their affiliation with the Episcopal Church or the Diocese of California. As seekers of a new rector to guide their faith journey forward, they also are seeking the views of their congregations on the qualities, traits and skills they should look for in the candidates.  And they are all listening—not always patiently—for God to guide them on this uncertain journey. We are all impatient to find a new Rector and get back to “normal” in our parish lives.

The Search begins with Prayer, Listening and Self-Study

We know from the lessons and case studies of other congregations searching for new rectors that the process takes time—a lot of time.  The typical search process takes a year and one-half.  I have described it like painting your house: 80% preparation and 20% implementation.

We know from the research that there is a logical and predictable transition from grieving the loss former rector, discerning who the congregation is and what it seeks in calling a new rector, and then preparing to have a conversation with the candidates before choosing a new rector.

We also have learned from the experience of others that rushing the process or setting arbitrary deadlines has a way of backfiring since so much of the success of the call process is not the call itself but the preparation, and discernment, and consultation and consensus-building that informs it.

God has already chosen the next rector of St. Timothy’s Danville. Our job in the search process is to listen for clues about who that person is, talk to each other about our hopes, dreams and fears for the future, pray for guidance, and hold each other tight in the silence until we feel that pure and perfect grace.

So I worry when I hear that the Vestry has set a December 2011 deadline for the new search committee to present candidates for rector because we have so much listening, praying and preparation work to do before we get to our new Jerusalem in this next stage of our faith journey.


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