Sometimes people think of spirituality as being happy or fully alive. But for people in painful circumstances, the immediate challenge is not to be happy or glad; it is simply to survive another day until some semblance of flourishing becomes possible, if at all. Spirituality is not joy or peace or compassion or wonder, it is fortitude: courage amid pain and adversity - being able to say, despite the adversity, nevertheless I will survive.
In order to become a strawberry, you must cling to the vine, sometimes holding on for dear life. Spirituality isn't just the strawberry, it's the holding on.
Marianne Moore's poem "Nevertheless" is an ode to courage, to fortitude, to holding on, allowing the sap of creative transformation to flow through your veins as pure endurance. Endurance is a verb not a noun. It is an act of co-creativity, of you and the Holy working together.
In process theology God is the vine and also the sap that flows through your veins. God is the struggle to endure and the strength to endure, preparing the way for a strawberry to emerge if it can, but beautiful even if it can't.
- Jay McDaniel
The Spirituality of Fortitude
by Marianne Moore
you've seen a strawberry that's had a struggle; yet was, where the fragments met,
a hedgehog or a star- fish for the multitude of seeds. What better food
than apple seeds - the fruit within the fruit - locked in like counter-curved twin
hazelnuts? Frost that kills the little rubber-plant - leaves of kok-sagyyz-stalks, can't
harm the roots; they still grow in frozen ground. Once where there was a prickley-pear -
leaf clinging to a barbed wire, a root shot down to grow in earth two feet below;
as carrots from mandrakes or a ram's-horn root some- times. Victory won't come
to me unless I go to it; a grape tendril ties a knot in knots till
knotted thirty times - so the bound twig that's under- gone and over-gone, can't stir.
The weak overcomes its menace, the strong over- comes itself. What is there
like fortitude! What sap went through that little thread to make the cherry red!