Jack of Many Trades

P is for Piety and Perseverance

Originally posted: 2012-08-10

So I already used one week of "P" and it turns out the ADF has two virtues that start with that fine letter, piety and perseverance. Looks like you guys get a twofer today.

Piety's probably the more obvious of the two. The ADF is a religious organization, after all, and piety is an inherently religious virtue, synonymous with devotion. To be pious is to be reverent before the gods, to recognize their greatness and power and to respect them as is their due.

Piety also carries a connotation of humility before the divine. This is not something you see as often in pagan faiths. Asatru in particular has a culture wherein people refuse to bow to the gods, believing that their gods prefer them standing. Many neo-Pagans treat the gods as beings to petition for help and ignore the rest of the time.

I struggle with piety. I have always been a casual person with my gods, starting with Jesus as a child. I have taken criticism from everyone, Sunday School teachers up to fellow pagans, for not being serious enough toward the gods. Because of that, I tend to second-guess my relationships with them. Ultimately, though, I think piety is a mindset; it's the angle of approach. And it's hard for other people to see that. Only you can really know whether you're joking with a god out of love and respect, or showing the utmost formality for all the wrong reasons.

Perseverance is more my speed. While I've written recently about the difficulties I have following through on projects, I actually think perseverance is one of my stronger virtues. More than once, I have fallen back on the advice "when you're going through hell, keep going" to get me through a tough spot. It's what I do. I keep going.

In any religion with membership requirements, perseverance is going to be an important virtue. The Dedicant Path isn't something you can complete overnight, after all - it requires at least a full year of festivals. Giving up is easy; many ADF members never complete it. Heck, I'm honestly wondering if I'm going to complete it.

When things are hard, though, and there's nothing to be done... I keep going. I've been known to joke that my dark nights of the soul are more like dark months. I've learned to go on through a panic attack because stopping just because I was having one was so unthinkable. I went back to work the day after I was diagnosed with a brain tumor, because what else was I going to do?

For me, the two actually pair very well together. Sometimes my piety, my devotion, has been the only think that kept me functional and let me persevere. I have to trust something, to have faith, and my gods have kept faith with me when I needed them.