Much of life consists of going on day after day, without making much visible progress, doing our work as faithfully as we can with no special reward or recognition.—Sue Bender, Plain and Simple
As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered—James 5:11
We live in a time of large and spectacular problems—wars, economic collapses, the loss of viable ecosystems and viable communities. Sometimes this leads us to seek large and spectacular solutions. But these often compound the problem. We keep fighting wars to end all wars. We keep trying to restimulate rapid economic growth, although we were told that the last collapse was caused by unsustainably rapid economic growth. Technological fixes for environmental problems can end up creating more problems. Public crusades to reclaim family values and rebuild communities can generate as much division as unity.
I think that our large problems and the failure of our large solutions stem from our lack of humility and patience. Humility requires us to acknowledge that we can’t impose our will on other people or reshape the world in our own image. It also requires us to acknowledge that we are still responsible for living in ways that make our land a little healthier, our neighborhood a little friendlier, our household a little more self-reliant, our part of the world a little more peaceable. Patience enables us to persevere in this constant and unspectacular work.
As we work on tending our gardens and helping our neighbors and living within our means and loving our enemies we will often be frustrated. We will feel that our efforts don’t make much difference in the grand scheme of things. We will notice the ways in which our own carelessness and selfishness and ill-temper undermine the work we mean to be doing.
But we will also receive the blessings of perseverance. We will learn to forgive ourselves and other people. We will learn the skills and the disciplines that enable us to pick ourselves back up and keep moving toward our goal. We will learn to rely on God.
Perhaps keeping faith in these small things will someday fit us for greater things so that we will be able to join together to work patiently, humbly and faithfully toward large-scale healing, sustainably and peace.