I have recalled again and again this last month the old adage, “Ninety percent of success is just showing up,” or something to that effect. Faithfulness. Doing what must be done. Doing one’s duty.
We modern folk are impatient. We want results. With decreasing attention spans, we want immediate gratification, immediate connection, immediate response. I love my email and the many gadgets that allow me to stay in touch with friends and family. But studies recently are questioning the habits those instant connections foster. The habit of the now.
Faithfulness. Duty. Submission to authority. Not popular concepts in an age of me, of self.
Athletes understand these things, as they train and discipline their bodies. What we seem to be losing as a culture is the training of the will, of the mind, of the heart.
Saint Peter’s was warm on this cold and rainy Sunday morning. I checked on the children in the Sunday School and all was well. The Primaries and Juniors were making saints costumes involving a good deal of glitter. The babies in the nursery were watched and waited on and loved. I returned to the warm red-carpeted nave and knelt before the tabernacle tented in Trinity green, the altar aflame with tall tapers. I considered my week, rooting out my sins.
A tragedy struck a friend of mine this week. Her daughter’s newborn was admitted to hospital for neurosurgery. I began my prayers as soon as I heard, and emailed friends to pray. I prayed for the parents, the grandparents, all those involved in the care of this tiny life. We wait and we pray. We love. And we trust God that, no matter the outcome, he will pull his grace from the material of our suffering.
For this, I knew, is what he does. Adam and Eve initiated sickness and death with their rebellion in Eden. They allowed evil into our world. But God wins in the end. So I watch and wait and pray with every ounce of my being.
The Epistle today (Ephesians 6:10+) was that wonderful passage about putting on the armor of God to withstand evil. To prepare for these tragedies of life, this battle with sickness and death, we must train, we must show up, we must be faithful. Saint Paul lists those pieces of armor necessary to our training: truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, Scripture, watching with perseverance and supplication to the saints. In this way, Paul insists, we make known the mystery of the Gospel of Christ, the good news of life.
It’s not always easy or exciting to be faithful, faithful to those around us, faithful to God. But the rewards, the graces poured upon us, are infinite. At times in the last weeks this juxtaposition of steady going and delirious happiness has made me dizzy with joy. I recall those moments as I pray for this infant and his family, pulling them into the love of God.
This morning, the Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity, I knelt before the tabernacle housing the Real Presence of Christ and quietly, faithfully, said my prayers.