Patience in Place: A Manifesto

Eugene Peterson writes: “Whenever [Wendell] Berry writes the word ‘farm,’ I substitute ‘parish’: the sentence works for me every time”

Becoming a pastor is becoming one who attends to particular people in a particular place.  We must become students in order to serve.  Students of here and this.  Ministry training is not so much a learning about ideas or concepts or theological systems or even “ways to counsel.”  It’s about becoming attentive to real people in all their particularity.  This cannot be learned in classrooms and exams.  It is a skill learned through hard experience.  Through staying when you really want to leave.  It’s patience.  Patient attendance to particular people in a particular place over time.  It’s seeing people poetically allowing the superabundance of meaning in every particular to pour out into your compassionate imagination.

That’s what I love about poems like William Carlos Williams’ Red Wheelbarrow:

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.

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