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A Thoughtful Consistency

Perhaps one of the misused quotes of Ralph Waldo Emerson is that "consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." It's used to brush off any suggestions of routines and consistent thinking.

But that is taking it out of context. It is a quote about living authentically, and honoring, as Unitarian Universalist James Luther Adams wrote,

"...the principle that “revelation” is continuous. Meaning has not been finally captured. Nothing is complete, and thus nothing is exempt from criticism. Liberalism itself, as an actuality, is patient of this limitation. At best, our symbols of communication are only referents and do not capsule reality. Events of word, deed, and nature are not sealed. They point always beyond themselves."

On Friday, I wrote about routines, chosen and unchosen, during this time. What is a routine, a thoughtful consistency, one that will feel like a reward not a chore, than you can choose for yourself during this strange and disturbing time?

This does not necessarily mean indulgence, though that may be a welcome and life-affirming routine you can embrace. I have a daily routine of hot tea, in a small, pretty teapot, served in a teacup and saucer handed down to me from my mother-in-law, handed down to her from one of the ancestors. It is a light indulgence and one that makes my day more pleasant.

But even those routines that feel like disciplines can come to mean a reward. A long run may feel onerous a third of the way through, but fulfilling at the end. Yoga, meditation. Taking the time to read several pages from a difficult book. And the more we we do these routines, the more they become a habit, the more centered and in control of our own lives we feel.

And when we are centered and in control, we are better able to sit with all of the deep thoughts that this time of uncertainty is presenting to us, to think hard about what is being revealed to us. We may change our minds about some things, over this next year. And that is as it should be.

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day."


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