Friday 13th March              

Perseverance

2 Timothy 1:13
Continue to follow the sound teaching you have been given
in faith and love, and guard the truth entrusted to you.

“Few of us would regret the years it takes
to complete an education or master a crucial skill,
so why complain about the perseverance needed to become
a well-balanced and truly compassionate human being?”
– Mathieu Ricard

Is this Lent the time for us to recommit ourselves
to deepening our spiritual lives?
……………………………………………………..
I often teach people to meditate. I have meditated myself for many years now,
I was taught how to in my late teens by a Buddhist monk in Bethnal Green.
It was a form of prayer I took to like a duck to water,
it made sense for me to pray in this way.
He taught me to pick a mantra or a prayer word from my own Christian tradition.
It could be a verse from a Psalm such as: “In you, O God, I take refuge”,
or it could be as simple as saying the name “Jesus” over and over again…. Slowly, reflectively.

I chose my mantra and he told me to say it in my head slowly, in rhythm with my breathing.
And that I should aim to mediate this way twice a day for 20 minutes.
Like I said, I took to it naturally and loved my meditation sessions,
until after while I hit a wall.
I found it more difficult to find the time.
I found it more difficult to stay focused on my mantra.
My mind began to wander all over the place. 20 minutes began to feel like an hour.
My meditation practice
no longer brought the peace and sense of God’s presence that it first did.

I went back to my Buddhist monk and told him I must be doing something wrong,
because meditating now was beginning to feel like an ordeal and a waste of time.
He smiled at me and said
“oh, I forgot to tell you about the most important bit! Perseverance.”
He taught me that you had to stick at your spiritual practise through thick and thin,
and not give up.

For the last 25 years or so I have tried to follow that advice,
and it’s been hard work at times. It still is hard work at times!
But I know my life is richer because I have persevered.
If I have ever got out of the habit of my daily meditation the day has not flowed the same
and I am aware of something vital being missing from my life.
Spiritual practise is never easy and is often a struggle to maintain;
but it deepens with time, often without us being aware of that deepening.

I often think back to that Buddhist monk and his emphasis on perseverance.
Perseverance is an invaluable spiritual tool,
and helps us our practise to take roots in our lives.