Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Patience is a virtue - but why?

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Pacience is a poynt, thagh hit displese ofte.

Opening phrase of Pacience, a Middle English poem by "The Gawain Poet". Poynt means virtue. 

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That patience is a virtue, and why patience is necessary, is evidence of the fundamental nature of reality.

So often, we are taught by the best authorities, patience is the proper Christian response. Not always appropriate - but certainly patience is usually both necessary and good.

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But why? Why is patience needed? Why cannot things be as they will be, as they should be: but NOW?

The answer is: Because Time is linear, sequential: Because the world is causal, and causes and effects take time to eventuate: Because things take time to happen - and in the mean-time we must wait.

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It takes time to get from situation A to situation B - and in between the two situations of A and B may be the free will, the agency of sentient beings, which may help or may hinder; thus the pathway from A to B may not be predetermined, even when the fact of eventually moving from A to B is certain. Reality may need to take a variety of routes, to find a way around, to fulfil the will of God - and this takes time.

To be impatient is to deny this fundamental reality; to be impatient is to deny the reality of reality - that is nihilism.

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Why don't things happen instantly? If they could, then patience would not be necessary and would not be a virtue. 

If the ultimate reality of the universe was that there was no Time, that ultimately reality was outside of Time - and if God was omnipotent, and if everything that happened anywhere was God's direct doing - then there would be no need for Patience because things could be made SO in an instant.

But because the universe is within Time, things cannot be made SO in an instant; but events must work through in sequence - which takes time.

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Even the salvation of Man took time to work-through - hundreds or thousands of years from Adam to Christ, filled with prophets and History; some thirty years of the life of Christ - the hours in the Garden of Gethsemane and the hours on the cross; the dozens of hours from Good Friday to Easter Day. And so on.

If the coming of Christ and his work took place in historical Time, linearly and sequentially - we can only infer that this was necessary; it was necessary because that is how reality really is.

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Things almost-never are done in an instant - to wish that this were so may be a snare; things almost-always need to be worked-through.

And in the mean-time: we must be patient.

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