Wisdom 18:14-16, 19:6-9
I find persistence both a curse and a blessing.
It can be a curse, as in the first reading, we go like “a fierce warrior, into the doomed land.” While, in this case, it had a fruitful ending, it doesn’t always happen like this. I’ve spent too much of my life walking down dry gullies or driving down dirt roads that went nowhere.
But persistence is also a blessing.
Life is full of stories of people who were rejected, but persisted, like our Gospel widow.
Walt Disney was sacked from a job in a newspaper because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas”!
Elvis Presley was told after an early performance to “go back to driving trucks”.
Michael Jordan got cut from his high school football team. He once said, “I have missed over 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game-winning shot, and I have missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
What would we have missed in our life if we had given up? Persistence is a blessing. I don’t know who said it, but someone did. “The path of least resistance is short. And goes nowhere special.”
Persistence can be beautiful as we get to experience that part of ourselves that knows no fear, which acts with love and courage. And we can rejoice in the original and unspoiled gift that is present in all those we meet.
And persisting is humbling because we realize how often we succumb to temptation and weakness. We can use the experience to understand with compassion the struggles and pain that all of us sometimes have.
Many years ago, I visited the immense unfinished carving of Crazy Horse, in the Black Hills of South Dakota. There was a small plaque, quoting, I believe, Korczak Ziolkowski, the original sculptor of the project. He said,
At the end of our life, we will be asked one question.
And that question is, “Did you do your job?”
And you can’t answer, “I would have, if only I had more time, or if only I had more money, or I would have if people had been kinder to me.”
The only answer we can give to “Did you do your job?” is:
Peter Gardiner is a Passionist priest, presently teaching English to Passionist students in Vietnam.