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Spiritual Practice of the Month: Perseverance

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- As a spiritual practice, perseverance is more than just endurance.

It is endurance combined with the absolute certainty that whatever we experience throughout the journey will make us better.

Perseverance is seen in the simple, homely story of the chicken and the egg.

The baby chick, approaching full life, finds himself in a nice, safe environment, which is dark and quiet. His home, the egg, keeps him warm and cuddly. He feels just perfect.

Soon, however, he becomes aware that the shell keeping him so safe and comfortable is also confining his life. He begins to feel restricted.

There is something in life that says, “I have to grow!”

Humans and animals have planted within them the need to be free and grow, so the little chick begins pecking at the shell. He does not understand it, but things have been set up so that he has to peck and peck.

He works hard, gaining strength hour by hour from that God-ordained struggle. Before long, he has obtained the strength and endurance to cope with a new environment and he breaks out of his shell. He pecks some more and he breaks through the shell, ready for a new life.

People have tried to help the little chicks speed up the process by cracking the shell and opening it for them, but in short-circuiting this process, they killed the chicks. They are stillborn and unable to handle, for even a few moments, the rigors of a new environment.

Various holy texts speak to perseverance as a part of spiritual formation.

One in particular begins with “Ask, seek and knock.” In its original language of writing, it is simply interpreted as, “Keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking.”

Whether in our personal or professional lives, we have all experienced the harshness of a new environment.

The choice to persevere originates from deep within; only after that can it work its way out through our physical acts of determination.

In the end, choice reinforces spiritual formation and allows for healthy adaptation to whatever comes our way.