Last week I shared that after having thoroughly embraced that courage is hard to describe, seems to be subjective, and is a force unto its own, I’m confident in this…a waiting heart conceives courage. When I embarked on this journey to explore courage and all its attributes, early this year, I found myself unsettled by one thing. I had settled in and settled down on a list of attributes I had sourced from an article in Psychology Today. The author sites six different attributes that make courage what it is, and helps us define it with examples. Sure, this is not an exhaustive list, it is however the one that addresses my deep belief that courage is indeed a virtue. This is the courage I was chasing. The virtue.
Yet, with all my pondering and reflection these six attributes continued to fall short. There was something missing. Yet, I couldn’t put my finger on it until several weeks ago.
Late this spring as I leashed my terriers for their afternoon stroll down our street I spotted a little mess that had moved in and settled down in the crux of the flood lights that hang above my garage. Something about that little mess called my attention. I wasn’t aware of its meaning at first, it needed unfolding. The days turned to weeks and as I kept my eye on the little mess it began to teach me.
The first lesson was the significance of a number. I’m not proposing that I adopt numerology as a religion or science, but six attributes of courage, SIX, that’s just not a number worthy of courage. Now seven, that’s a good number if ever there was one.
Now, if there was a missing attribute from the list, what would that be?
Then one day, as I walked toward the little mess, gently rolling onto the tip of my toes just hoping to get a closer peak, it occurred to me.
Waiting. Waiting is the seventh attribute of courage.
Waiting, is what I saw in that little mess above my garage. In 5th grade I had the opportunity to select a short elective class to take as a reward for my good grades. I remember it fondly, my selection, a short course entitled “Bird Watching.” That’s how I knew it was a couple of Mourning Doves who occupied the little mess above my garage. They are accustomed to waiting. Mourning Doves are some of the most reproductive birds in North America which means, they wait a lot.
I thought long and hard about waiting in a mess and how that takes courage. The more I thought, the more I knew that this was a good lesson to learn. When we’re tethered to a mess, we must allow courage to be conceived, to come alive, to give way to hope. That’s what I spotted as I peaked into that little mess and stared those doves in the eyes, hope. When we are forced to wait and we watch a life we want to engage pass us by, knowing we cannot leave our little mess until the waiting is over, we must have the courage to hope. I knew that look, that look of waiting, and I reflected on some lessons I’ve learned during seasons of waiting.
Waiting, the seventh attribute of courage, not only makes the list complete, it also completes the cycle. It is the attribute that conceives all others, the origin. It is the beginning of courage and it lives deep in our hearts.
Next week I hope to share my first resource on waiting with you. Until, then my friend, be strong and courageous.