Reflections to start the week
Monday, March 16, 2015
I recently learned that the Dawn spacecraft had reached the Ceres asteroid, located somewhere between Mars and Jupiter. It took seven and a half years for the spacecraft to get there. I found myself wondering about the person who at NASA was watching that progress, day in, day out for the last seven plus years. A lot of days marked by not much to report. A picture of faithfulness.
I recently heard that Lady Gaga worked with a voice coach every day for six months in preparation for her “Sound of Music” medley at the Oscars. For what it’s worth, I thought it was an impressive performance (though Stephen Sondheim disagreed). I was most impressed with the intentionality behind the preparation, the perseverance, the persistence.
I’m told that Pablo Casals, arguably the best cellist on the globe, practiced every day well into his nineties. When asked why he practiced, he said: “Because I get better.” A witness to the truth that in the journey, we are never done. So we keep on keeping on.
I’ve heard that Martin Luther prayed four hours a day. When someone asked how he had time in his busy schedule to do such, he said something like this: “I’m too busy not to.”
These random events sound like a set up for a bad joke: Lady Gaga, Pablo Casals, and Martin Luther walk into a bar…. (If you have the punchline, send it to me.) These witnesses (Okay. I admit. I never expected to write about Lady Gaga) are evoked by the season. I’m at the point in Lent, and coincidentally at the point in winter, when I’m done. Enough already of acknowledging my wretchedness, my manifold wickedness, to swipe phrases from the Book of Common Prayer. Enough of gray skies and cold weather. I’m ready for something new.
But the forty days of Lent indicate a persistent theme about the journey of faith. That persistent theme has to do with persistence. It has to do with endurance. On a good day, I can see that endurance is a key Christian virtue. It has to do with hope, that essential human quality that calls us to plant seeds for trees whose shade we may never enjoy.
If I’m alone in feeling late winter crankiness, indulge me, forgive me, say a prayer for me. But if you’re feeling some of it too, if your life has ever taken on that quality, then consider the fact that the spiritual journey is often simply about putting one foot in front of another, like a marathon runner hitting the wall. Speaking of one marathon runner, Mother Teresa was once asked how she could wake up every morning and address the overwhelming poverty which given its systemic spread, never seemed to change. Mother Teresa said: God calls me to be faithful, not successful. That’s faith. That’s faithfulness.
It’s the faith of Abraham and Sarah, who heard a promise that they would be parents of multitudes but, oh by the way, they were 90 and had no kids. It’s the faith of Moses who hightailed it out of Egypt and spent forty years watching sheep. What a waste of his Ivy League education. It’s the faith of St. Paul who spoke of the connection between endurance and hope. It’s the faith I am privileged to witness at work in the lives and ministries of faithful clergy and parishioners around the church, ministers (ordained or otherwise) who show up and show love. It’s the faith, the faithfulness, that reflects the faith, the faithfulness of God who hangs in there with us.
So this Monday morning, give thanks for God’s faithfulness. Take note of where you have experienced it. And let your life as a person of faith find ways to reflect that faithfulness, in persistence, endurance, patience in the hope that before long, Spring will be here. Persist.
– Jay Sidebotham
Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. -Romans 5
Rev. Jay Sidebotham
RenewalWorks is a ministry of Forward Movement.