The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Best this month

The Power of Patience: How to Slow the Rush and Enjoy More Happiness, Success, and Peace of Mind
Every Day by M.J. Ryan begins with some interesting statistics: The average doctor visit now lasts eight minutes. Some fast food chains are promising lunch in 90 seconds or it's free. Developers of high-rises have discovered the maximum number of floors based on the amount of time people are willing to wait for elevators — 15 seconds; if it stretches to 40, we freak out. All this is evidence of a common malady of modern life — patience deficit or hurry sickness.

Yet all religious traditions sing the praises of patience. Job for the Jews and Jesus for the Christians are fine models of this virtue. Muslims honor patience since it's one of the attributes of Allah. Many Buddhist teachers sing the praises of this quality, especially for the health of relationships. In this handy resource, Ryan explains that patience is a habit that can be learned and reinforced by motivation, awareness and practice. She uses many stories and quotations to cover the mental outlooks that help us move beyond the bad habit of impatience.

Patience yields many rewards. Ryan says it connects us to hope, helps us live longer with less stress, guards the door to anger, gives us greater empathy and is at the heart of civility. Reframing an experience is a fine way to cultivate patience. Ryan shares the story of a person who enjoys sitting in traffic because it gives him time to reflect on things. The Power of Patience is a gem that shines with the wisdom of a longtime practitioner of everyday spirituality (Broadway Books).

The Way Home is
a Korean film about Sang-Woo, a 7-year-old boy whose mother from Seoul drops him off to stay with his grandmother in a remote mountain village. The boy immediately dislikes the place. A true city slicker, he desperately misses all the things he took for granted at home. Despite new surroundings to explore, he spends most of his time playing his Game Boy.

His grandmother, who is mute and stooped over from years of work, doesn't know what to make of this spoiled brat who shows no respect for her and often has temper tantrums. In one of the most touching scenes, she discovers that he wants to eat chicken. She prepares one for him, but he wants the fast-food "Kentucky" chicken he could get in Seoul. Sang-Woo also looks down his nose at another boy in the community and pulls several pranks on him. Most of his interest is focused on a girl who isn't interested in him. Slowly Sang-Woo begins to see the drawbacks to his selfishness.

Writer and director Lee Jeong-Hyang fashioned a simple and satisfying drama about the healing power of love. Throughout all the taunts, tricks and temper tantrums, Sang-Woo's grandmother keeps reaching out to the boy and never once puts him out of her heart. She is a living embodiment of the spiritual practice of hospitality, always putting the needs of her guest above her own. This unconditional love is something he is unfamiliar with, and eventually it softens his hard heart (Paramount Home Video, PG).


Print subscribers and supporting Web members may comment.

Log in or Subscribe to comment.

text size:

this page: email | print

February issue


Embracing diversity