Attempting to incorporate our faith practices into the rhythm of daily life, on Epiphany back in January, we adapted an activity from Traci Smith’s Seamless Faith. I purchased thin wooden stars from the craft store, and labeled around 20 of them, each with a different virtue. To make it fancy (since that’s a thing I do), I wrote in gold ink with artsy lettering.
Then, we read Matthew’s account of the magi following a star to find a young Jesus. After reading together, we had the little pick one of the stars out of the basket.
What was chosen: persistence.
J hung the star on our fridge. And we keep coming back to it as we hit bumps and snags in life this year.
Though the activity seems arbitrary, a bit like drawing straws or gambling, what I appreciate is how that persistence star helps us find meaning in life events the past few months. It’s become a guide for noticing the Spirit.
Rather than seeing everything as meaningless, I find myself asking — what does this teach us about persistence? Where can I grow?
Where is the Spirit working in this? Who am I called to be in this situation?
The virtue has been a flashlight — a thin beam of hope lighting a way forward in the dark.
When I felt chewed up and spit back out earlier in January and February, persistence became a way to hang in there in spite of the desire to run away. Persistence meant staying fully present all the way through to the end of a story, even when I’d rather rip off the band-aid early and be done with the nerve-wracking wondering and anticipation.
And it’s not that somehow I mustered up this capability through my own willpower. It’s the work of the Spirit, who somehow makes a way when there was none. Somehow even when I’d rather seal up my heart like a clam shell in anticipation of pain, the Spirit compels me to stay open, to stay soft.
Perhaps a small miracle, but I still claim it as miracle nonetheless.
Recently I wondered for the first time how this word might be a blessing not just for me, but for the little who drew it. I wept on the thought, but found it comforting as well. That even apart perhaps there’s something in this word still drawing all of us onward. Keep growing, little one. Keep persisting.
This Lent, persistence shapes this practice of writing. I read and write — with varying degrees of effort. Some weeks the words and ideas flow easily.
This week is not one of them. Today I’d rather hide and fritter the day away. But instead, I’m here. Slowly word after word appears, in spite of the inner critic harping on all that’s wrong with me.
Writing about persistence was not the tack I planned take. But all the other stuff I contemplated writing felt like an effort to fix things irritating me on social media. And that’s not a place where I show up as my best self.
It’s a middle road, this persistence post. It’s what is in me today. There’s some other drafts I’m working on for the next weeks, and I’m excited to see what develops there. But those things aren’t quite ready yet.
So today yet again, I’m still putting fingers to keyboard, attempting to be faithful to my best self and to my own commitment.
Showing up means seeing myself as a writer, even in the midst of doubt over my worthiness. It means practicing this skill that tangles me up as much as it knits me back together — often both at the same time. It means, despite the unhelpful self-talk, I choose to practice self-compassion and post anyway.
For you, in whatever season you find yourself, I hope you find the persistence to continue showing up where it matters for you.