The Things I Put Up With…

The first great rule of life is to put up with things.

Baltasar Gracian

[Daily Peace, Washington D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2015, March 11]

Baltasar Gracian was a seventeenth century Jesuit priest and philosopher who wrote these and many other words. His Oraculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia was translated from its original baroque Spanish to English by Christopher Maurer in 1994, and gained popularity under its anglicized name – The Art of Worldly Wisdom. It’s currently available  as an ebook and as a printed-and-bound book]

This truth doesn’t mean accepting abuse or neglect – that would be the first great rule of death: it means accepting the bedrock reality that the world doesn’t exist for the convenience of any one person, including me. Sometimes the train will be late, the line at the grocery check-out long, the game cancelled due to rain. Power lines go down. It’s just the way life is. Sometimes there’s someone at fault, but often there really isn’t. The grocery store running out of cilantro isn’t a sign that the world is out to get me.There’s no nefarious plot to deprive me of salsa, just a plain old inconvenience that I can accept with amusement or petulance.

All these things I put up with can teach me patience and grace, opening my eyes to the glorious imperfection that is life on this planet. If I gain enough wisdom I might even discover that these things I put up with are God’s way of giving me the world (and the good sense to know that everyone else gets it, too).

Love is patient, love is kind; it is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. I Corinthians 13: 4-6 NRSV


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