(I made all of these prayer stones in a pottery class I took last year. Each stone contains a name of a person or something else I want to pray for. Most mornings before I go out to my garden to pray, I close my eyes and select five stones that I put into a bag and take with me. I pray for those things that day. It is a fun way to remember to pray for things. I have been sharing some of these stones on Facebook.)

Today is Patience, Joy and Serenity.

First Patience. The Patience stone is brown… like dirt. It isn’t flashy. Nobody will really notice if you are patient. Yet it is the necessary foundation for anything valuable to flourish. All things worthwhile cultivate slowly. All things good require time, lots of time, to grow roots deep and strong enough to withstand the inevitable tragedies of life.

Our culture wants it fast, now. Roots be damned. We have become shallow, weak; our contentment is washed away by the slightest rainstorm. I pray for us to learn how to be patient with ourselves, with each other, with God…

…only then can we possess joy. Joy is a fire, green, glossy with flecks of orange and purple. Real joy is so much greater than happiness. Real joy is deep. It doesn’t depend upon external circumstances. Real joy remains. It wells up within us when we watch a lovely sunset, or listen to a haunting melody. Real joy can make us cry.

Serenity is the soft glowing embers after the laughter or tears subside. Serenity is peaceful contentment, soft and blue on the edges. It is a small smile on our lips as we turn our eyes inward into the depths our soul and find warmth there.

I pray that we may learn to practice and master all three of these… Patience, Joy and Serenity. But Patience is first…