This well-worn paperback was gifted to me in December of 2001, and I began reading it in January of 2002. I have read portions of it every year since. Its cover has been reinforced with tape. Many pages are highlighted and underlined. My copy bears a copyright of 1997.
Just think, it has been my constant companion for over twelve years. I’m not sure what keeps me drawn to it. Its title speaks volumes. It seems I am always in need of reinforced strength, for the daily needs are always there, although they wax and wane in intensity. The book is a compilation of Bible verses (pure King James Version), poetry, and quotations from (I presume) spiritual leaders. Some of the language is rather archaic, and I have seen modernized versions, and have bought a few of the updated volumes as gifts for family and friends, but I tend to prefer the original verbiage.
Yesterday’s selection included this paragraph:
“It is possible–when the future is dim, when our depressed faculties can form no bright ideas of the perfection and happiness of a better world–it is possible still to cling to the conviction of God’s merciful purpose toward His creatures, of His parental goodness even in suffering. We can still feel that the path of duty, though trodden with a heavy heart, leads to peace. We can still be true to conscience. We can still do our work, resist temptation, be useful, though with diminished energy, and give up our wills, even when we cannot rejoice under God’s mysterious providence. In this patient, though uncheered, obedience, we become prepared for light. The soul gathers force.”
William Ellery Channing (emphasis mine)
It’s not a very cheerful passage, is it? But, more than once over the past 12 years, it has impressed me. Life is not always easy or enjoyable. A friend of mine says that feeling stress gives us reassurance that we are still alive. And now, as I struggle with this transition into truly becoming an accomplished writer (translated PUBLISHED!), which does not at the moment seem to be going my way, Mr. Channing’s admonition was just what I needed. It was the necessary reminder that there is still work to be done. That this is no time to quit. That God does have a plan. And my soul gathers force to persevere.
Of course, writing is not the only path that requires perseverance. The challenges of everyday life require a stubborn stick-to-itiveness. One must keep on keeping on when faced with family illness or estrangement. One must still do the work that needs to be done, whether going to the job and giving a fair day’s work for a day’s pay or cleaning house or cooking meals or balancing the budget. Perhaps the most immediate challenge is finding the will to get out of bed and face the day. One step, one task, one day at a time is what it takes.
So, here I am, sharing this moment, my thoughts with you. And I shall be bold and “publish”. And, just perhaps, it will speak to someone out there who also feels the stress and needs daily strength and hears this challenge to hang in there and keep the faith.
Blessings to all………