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In honor of persistence — what can take its place?

quiltstarI'd like to focus on persistence in this post. Persistence isn't one of those big, flashy qualities that gets a lot of attention, but it goes to the very core of what makes life work. The universe surely needs persistence to keep its various galaxies and systems operating as they should. The redwood tree, just starting out on its journey, a little wisp of a thing perhaps 3 feet tall, is obviously going to need persistence to reach its true potential.

And so it is for us.

Calvin Coolidge, the 30th US president, had this to say about persistence. "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."

My wife, JoAnn, belongs to a quilting group that calls itself the Finishing Club. JoAnn joined this group about two years ago because -- one reason at least -- she has quite a lot of quilts stashed away in hidden places here and there that never quite made it to the finish line. She thought, correctly, that being in this group would motivate her.

When she left home an hour or so ago to attend this morning's meeting of this group in the basement of a local church, my wife took with her a quilt that has a rather special significance for her. She actually began this quilt 20 years ago. It was the first quilt she ever made, or perhaps I should say, attempted, and it got her started in quilting -- but it remained unfinished and forgotten as new projects and new possibilities came along.

I should mention that JoAnn hit upon the idea of quilting at a time in her life when she was in a transition, wondering what she should do after retiring from Shell. One day she thought to herself, "I like to sew. Perhaps I would like to quilt." She found she liked to quilt very much, and it quickly became not just a hobby, but a passion -- a way of life.

In any case, a week or two ago, JoAnn decided enough is enough, and she set to work in earnest to finish this particular quilt that, as you can imagine, has a very special meaning for her. As she left home to go to the quilters’ meeting an hour or two ago, she was very much looking forward to displaying this finished quilt -- to the accompaniment of a drumroll, perhaps, and loud cries of "well done."

Personally, I love this particular quality we call persistence. In the face of life's tribulations and setbacks, persistence is the only thing that kept me going at times. I'm sure this has been true for you also.

We may be used to giving thanks for things that we have in an external sense, for the material blessings that come along in our life. Let us take a moment to give sincere and grateful thanks for something that does not have any external form -- except perhaps the form we give it in our own lives -- but is an immense blessing nonetheless: The truth of persistence.

Persistence is part of your true nature. It is part of our true character.

Think about it. Someone, or something might have made a mistake, you know, and amidst the confusion of creating, forgotten all about the need for persistence. No, I don't want to think about it. The very idea makes me feel very uncomfortable and ill at ease.

I’m going to let Confucius have the last word on this topic. He said, however many years ago this was, “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”

Actually, best of all would be if you have the last word. What do you think about this post? Has persistence played an important part in your life? Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or share the post with friends. Until next time – keep on keeping on.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jill Campana August 14, 2009 at 6:59 pm

Hi Chris, my sister is a quilter and will enjoy this post. I’m sending it to her now. She and Joann would get along famously I’m sure.

Love,

Jill

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Sharyn August 14, 2009 at 8:55 pm

I too have just finished a quilt that I started many years ago. Seems like I collected a lot of unfinished projects. I have about 200 or 300 years of them it seems. Wanting to get them done before I die,I decided I had better get a move on and proceeded to finish some of my favorites. The one I chose to work on first was one for our church auction(we need $$ for remodeling that we needed to be done) It’s made of “Goose on the pond” blocks set on point, with 8 different Psalms set in the quilt,hence calling it the “Comfort of Psalms Quilt.” Loved reading your post (my sister sent it to me). Yes, one has to have persistence to FINISH anything of substance.
I too went to my guild to say “Look what I finished.” Now on to another project!!

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Christopher Foster August 16, 2009 at 10:32 am

Great to hear from you Sharyn. I shared your most welcome comment with my wife and she was very happy to share your story and connect with a “sister” in this wild and wonderful world of quilting. Anyway, well done. Your quilt with eight Psalms set in it sounds very special.

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Gunjan August 22, 2011 at 12:08 am

Hi! Persistance has played an important role in my life though there have been times when I have quit out of despair. The immense joy and satisfaction that you get as a result of being persistant is however matchless. Inspiring post!

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