764: Fides, Spes

764: Fides, Spes

764: Fides, Spes


I’m Ada Limón and this is The Slowdown.

I’ve never been good at patience. I don’t like waiting. Never have. I have come up with tools to become more patient, I’ve learned to meditate in waiting rooms and long lines. I travel a lot, so much of my life is spent navigating layovers and trying to pass the time with books and phone calls and emails while in the limbo of air travel. Still, my personality is prone to immediacy. I can imagine stomping my feet and balling my hands into fists and saying now, now, now, now.

But now doesn’t always come when you want it. “Now” can feel a little like limbo. The present moment isn’t always full of pleasure. Sometimes it’s not that great. Having just recovered from Covid, I can tell you I was growing impatient with the days of being sick, of having to rest and isolate and I was ready to go back into the world. I told my husband that I had read the whole internet and there was nothing left to read online anymore, and so I napped. But patience is something that I can learn, not always from other people, but from plants and animals.

I watch as the birds and sweetgrass wait for the drought to be over, or the hostas and hydrangeas droop in anxious anticipation of rain. I wonder if they know it will come, if they feel it, or if they think this moment of hot, dry air will be their eternity? There is a patience they practice, that I am learning. Because the rain does come, sometimes in torrents so heavy that the ground is too full to even hold it and the basement floods and the birds hide out in the hackberry leaves until the skies clear again.

There’s something beautiful about it, that surrender to the seasons, to the ongoingness of life. I am learning to wait like them, learning to be still more. Learning to have something that’s like faith, faith in the idea that something good will come, that some door will open and on the other side will be something beautiful, something worth waiting for. Just now, my husband brought me half an orange, and my Covid cough is getting better, and the rain, I’m not making this up, is just starting to fill the bird bath.

Today’s poem is about taking inspiration from nature, about learning to have faith and hope from the beauty of wild things.

Fides, Spes
by Willa Cather

Joy is come to the little
Pink to the peach and pink to the apple,
            White to the pear.
Stars are come to the dogwood,
            Astral, pale;
Mists are pink on the red-bud,
            Veil after veil.
Flutes for the feathery locusts,
            Soft as spray;
Tongues of the lovers for chestnuts, poplars,
            Babbling May.
Yellow plumes for the willows’
            Wind-blown hair;
Oak trees and sycamores only
            Comfortless bare.
Sore from steel and the watching,
            Somber and old,—
Wooing robes for the beeches, larches,
            Splashed with gold;
Breath o’love to the lilac,
            Warm with noon.—
Great hearts cold when the little
            Beat mad so soon.
What is their faith to bear it
            Till it come,
Waiting with rain-cloud and swallow,
            Frozen, dumb?

This poem is in the public domain.