There’s a quiet virtue coming between the four of us. She’s like an invisible soft hand, slowing us down, holding us back, putting her finger to our mouths before any quick words can thoughtlessly escape. She whispers to us, “Breathe. Breathe like a river who is in no rush to get anywhere.”
One of the most difficult tests on the road is patience. Patience to wait for the right moment, patience with other drivers, patience to wait your turn, patience to get to your destination, patience to look for your belongings, patience not to be disappointed with the unexpected, and patience to sit with your own thoughts. Without patience, our expedition would have derailed before the end of the first week.
So far, we have traveled to Mills River, NC, the Great Smokey Mountains, Nashville, TN, Hot Springs, AR, and Chickasaw, OK, in an RV with our almost 15 and 13 year old kids. We embarked on this maiden voyage without any prior experience, literally learning as we go. And while the technicalities of Daisy, our RV, can be a daily challenge solved by an operating manual, our family of four did not come with any “How-To” books.
Locals in the small, quiet towns that don’t make most maps are fascinated with our story; many of them have never crossed the border of their own state. The fascination is returned as we listen to their stories, stories that date back countless generations and are filled with pride for their little place on earth. It’s admirable. The simplicity. On the other hand, it feels isolating for anyone who likes to travel. Our patience allows us to listen to feel what their lives are like.
“How do you all have the patience to travel in an RV together without fighting?” This is undoubtedly the number one question, a question we now see coming based on the whites of their eyes and the pause for consideration in their voice. Most say they wouldn’t last a couple days: they would become irritated with their spouse as their children would bicker. Before leaving, most of our friends asked how we could travel in such a small space without bickering.
We made a pact with one another to treat one another with kindness, respect, and patience. When you practice patience, waiting for another to pass out of your way becomes just another quiet moment. Everyday activities like making your bed, getting water, brushing your teeth, preparing food, getting dressed, and allowing someone to squeeze by all require quiet patience. Laughter also erupts from these daily challenges.
When we head back to Charlotte, patience will return with us. She is already a quiet member of our family. I implore you to invite her into your family if you haven’t done so already.
“Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is ‘timing,’ it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.” – Fulton J. Sheen