We see the achievements of perseverance everywhere we look. We can see it when a river cuts through rock- not because of its power but because of its persistence. We can see it in the story of the stonecutter who hammers at a rock one hundred times with no result; not even a crack. Then on the hundred and first blow it splits in two. “And I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before” says the stonecutter. We can see the importance of persistence as we acknowledge that “love is patient” and notice that we, and all those around us, can fail a great number of times but still meet success if we just keep trying. Abraham Lincoln himself obtained a very impressive list of failures before he won the election to be President of the United States.
My favorite words on perseverance are still the ones inscribed in my memory since childhood. “That which you persist in doing becomes easier. Not that the nature of the thing has changed but your ability to do it is increased.” (It was Mormon president Heber J. Grant that quoted these words which he attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson). As a child and teen there were few words that gave me as much courage or comfort as these. When anything felt difficult I believed the promise that if I persisted in doing it, it would get easier and, more often than not, it was true. What a gift it is that no matter who we are we all have the ability to persevere and thereby find happiness and success.
Calvin Coolidge wrote, “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” Indeed there would be little achievement without perseverance, and all activists for social reform realize this.
I was reading about what it is to be a people of perseverance and there was one story that stood out to me. A little boy is taking a walk with his father. They come upon a large rock. “Do you think if I use all my strength I can move this rock?” the child asks. His father replies, “Yes, I am sure that if you use all your strength you can move it.” So the child pushes and pushes with all his might but the rock doesn’t budge. “You were wrong – I can’t do it!” the boy cries. “No son. You didn’t use all your strength. You didn’t ask me to help.”
It is important that we remember that perseverance doesn’t have to be a solo act and that often times we are stronger together. Admitting that we are tired or that we can’t do something alone and letting others help us is often the best way to persevere.
At UUCB we do a lot of good together and I always feel blessed to be part of the things we achieve through perseverance as a faith and as a church family. Let us go forward together!
Janen Wright, Director of Faith Formation