On Perseverance

My roots are as a corn-fed Ohioan. My family prides itself on knowing what hard work is. So here I am building a labyrinth in La Falda Argentina—sponsored by the Alla Arriba Retreat Center—with an amazing group of Veriditas folks.

It is hard work. Our group is cohesive, united not only by the commitment to build a labyrinth here, but also by humor and the deep connection to the many ways the labyrinth can speak to us. We have moved tons of stones into place to replicate the “petite Chartres”. We haul sand, sort stones, carrying them to the specific path and then down on our knees to place stones in sand. We measure for “quality control”, shoring up the stones to make them level and fit within a certain width.

We’re all working hard, struggling with stiff muscles and sore backs and necks. All this makes me pause to reflect on perseverance. What exactly is it? I think of it as a ‘stick-to-it-ness’ that carries through to the end of a task. It’s also “energy management”—if you do it right—so you can hang in when the job gets tough, or your body gets tired. Part of it is a learnable skill and another part has to do with stamina and that mysterious phenomenon called resilience.

Perseverance is not all positive and there is a necessary discernment process behind your ability to hang in. What if you persevere when it would be entirely appropriate to give up, like a destructive marriage, or an unproductive job? We can hang in for the wrong reasons as well as worthy ones.

During our second day building the labyrinth it rained steadily from the minute we awoke until well after dusk. We almost quit and came home, then collectively we found our footing in our cause: we came to build a labyrinth in La Falda Argentina.

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