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The news today continues to be astoundingly distressing for our country. From confusion and distress about the Iowa caucuses with the “electronic advances” that didn’t work to the vitriol being spewed in public by our political “leaders,” one wonders where we are going as a nation. It’s difficult to speak except in one’s closest circles, and even there we are sometimes surprised with unexpected and vehement differences of opinion!

Two readings helped me this morning to keep an open mind. Meg Wheatley’s page on “Praise and Blame” from her book, Perseverance, stated obvious facts and raised some good questions. “There is absolutely no way to avoid being criticized,” she says. “Nobody gets through life being described as totally wonderful. The question is, what do we do with criticism? Do we take it in, believe it and develop self-loathing? Do we assume that a criticism of something we’ve done is a condemnation of who we are?…Can we not instantly push criticism away yet not accept it totally? Can we treat praise the same way?…Praise and blame are two sides of the same coin…In both cases we need to listen with caution and discernment…”

Good advice.. and even better was what I found in the Scriptures for today in the verse before the gospel: “Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart, and yield a harvest through perseverance.”