Adlai Stevenson and the Triduum

Slide1An unlikely pairing, yes?

Yes. But give me a chance to explain.

I teach a couple of dual enrollment courses at a local high school and often admire the collection of inspirational quotes that have painstakingly been hand-painted on certain walls. This particular quote attributed to Adlai Stevenson faces the last hall before I get to my classroom.

I’ve read that quote dozens of times as I race down the hall toward my classroom. In fact, I’ve seen that quote so many times that I barely notice it anymore.

Today was a little different. I was still in a hurry to get to class, but for another reason. Today begins the Paschal Triduum, marking the end of Lent.

I had a few things on my mind — mostly planning my schedule for the next three days as I endeavor to attend the special liturgies that begin tonight with the Mass of The Lord’s Supper  and lead to the Easter Vigil.

I look forward to this every year. In spite of being a crazy busy several days, time seems to slow down for me. It’s a gift that I don’t question. So today I found myself standing in front of Stevenson’s quote when I’d ordinarily zip right past it.

As I stood there reading it for the hundredth time, it occurred to me that I could substitute one single word in that statement and it would encompass every challenge I’ve faced this Lent:

Faith is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.

I was struck with the simplicity of it. I like shiny things and am distracted easily by anything that is new and promises to be different. Because of this, I think I have missed a great deal of opportunity for growth in my spiritual life. I want to have the epic religious conversion. I want to get, as I often tell my close friends, a memo from God that spells out everything in black and white. In short, I want to be knocked off a horse like St. Paul.

Instead, I get opportunities to wait. To practice patience. To wait some more.

I missed that I could have, should have been doing something while waiting. While I continue to wait.

I’ve come to understand that there’s a certain peace in the long haul, the daily grind of faith.