During this end-of-summer week, I have plenty of things on my mind. Hurricane Ida and the exit from Afghanistan absorb the daily news. The start of the school year and increased church activities also grab my attention, with new students in town and friends and family home from vacation. COVID is persisting beyond what I ever expected, and the politics surrounding it only seem to be getting more challenging.
Still, the school year is starting up with routines that are now fairly familiar, with both professional and scholastic sports happening as usual, along with other typical activities. I appreciate how many people seem to be taking all of the peculiarities and surprises of daily life in stride, and even more those who go out of their way to offer help to people caught up in challenging circumstances. We often say that with the passage of time, new and challenging situations become easier to bear. But the Writings tell us that it is not so much the passage of time but the effect of repeated actions that usefully respond to them.
“Action comes first, then the desire for it in the person's will follows. For when a person is led by their understanding to carry out any action, they are at length led by their will to do it, ‘til at last they have taken it on as an action performed habitually. When this point is reached it is introduced into the rational or internal person; and once it has been introduced, truth is no longer that which motivates them when they do a good action but good. For now, they begin to feel within it something of what is blessed and so to speak of heaven. This remains with them after death, and by means of it the Lord raises them up to heaven.” AC 3453
That is, the solution to the feelings of discouragement and irritation that I typically feel as a result of the difficult situations I encounter is to devote my attention and efforts to useful activities. I don’t know if it matters whether those activities are direct responses to the challenges, or whether any useful activity or interest will do the trick. Whatever it is, there are plenty of ways of helping those impacted by Ida, or immigrants from Afghanistan, or efforts connected with COVID, or other useful causes.
The end of summer is a special time of year, one that has both anxiety and energy connected with it. In either case, it is a time of year that often gets us going, and that is a good thing.