Devout

I would constantly be in touch with God

Last week I wrote about the attribute of being faithful. The theme applies this week as well, but with a more poignant purpose behind it. The quote I am addressing this week is about the character trait of being devout, which stems from one person’s faithful devotion to God.

If you have been following this series of messages, then you know I am using the lines of a 1905 poem, written by a Princeton divinity student, Harold Arnold Walter. His twelve-line composition highlighted those traits he thought essential to a fully developed character. And since they were presented one per line, it seemed like a viable crutch to help me stay current in my writing exercises by prompting me to express my own thoughts, one trait per week. It didn’t work as there was a sizeable gap in time between lines eight and nine. But now we are back on track, fully devoted to finishing this series.

The traits I have written about thus far have included being true, pure, strong, brave, friendly, humble, optimistic and faithful. Now it is the quality of a devout spirit.

Our devotion can apply to any relationship. We can be devoted to others, who share our mortal nature, but we tend to reserve our concept of devotion to being solely or primarily related to our reverence to a higher power of whatever spiritual construct you prefer. Proof of this viewpoint, if there is any, can be found in Merriam Webster’s on-line dictionary, which defines devout as being 1: committed or devoted to religion or to religious duties or exercises or 2: expressing piety or religious fervor.

This is the perspective in the heart of the author I have relied on to supply the inspiration for this series of messages. His poem, which became the basis of a Christian hymn, was written as a Christmas gift for his mother. His devotion to her exemplified by the pledges made in his poem serve as an example that such a trait as being devout can be focused on another human. Moms seem to excel as the recipients of this type of adoration.

Such refined affection for a family member, friend, colleague or cause is how we learn what it means to be devout in any of our commitments to someone or something outside of ourselves. We practice on those we can see as the basis for forming our faith in and devotion to what we cannot. Constancy of purpose becomes the measure of our devotion in what I believe to be the pursuit of intimacy in a relationship. We need to be known as well as to know and the quality of being devout is the pathway along which this exchange takes place.

Staying connected with someone – despite divorce rates and the imposition of self-quarantine due to viruses  – is our ideal. Devotion has no obstacles as was once adamantly proclaimed … neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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