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Asking the Clergy: Why is patience a virtue in these difficult times?

From left, Isma H Chaudhry of the Islamic

From left, Isma H Chaudhry of the Islamic Center of Long Island, Rabbi Joel M. Levenson of Midway Jewish Center, and Erik Larson of Global Harmony House (Brahma Kumaris). Credit: Alex M. Wolff; Islamic Center of Long Island; Anjani Sepersaud

As COVID-19 continues to affect nearly every aspect of our lives — from mask wearing in public to attending worship services online at home — Long Islanders can be forgiven for feeling a touch of pandemic fatigue. This week’s clergy discuss how faith can help us persevere until the discovery of an effective treatment or vaccine.

Erik Larson

Teacher, Global Harmony House (Brahma Kumaris), Great Neck

Patience is a power. It helps me to perform positive actions no matter what situation I am in and is, therefore, virtuous. When I have the power of patience, I don’t get caught up easily in upheaval. Patience makes me realize what I have to do. It helps me not to react in any situation. One who never reacts is very, very sensible. Patience makes me sensible, but without ego.

When I am patient, while listening, I can feel the feelings of another and witness their situation. It is supportive. Patience also gives me time to think, choose wisely and navigate the circumstances to make the best of any situation.

The Brahma Kumaris believe this is a time of tribulation and resolution. Spiritual effort, or living with spiritual truth, knowing our self as soul, is needed, but we don't always succeed. Patience is necessary for one aspiring to be better, so attention is focused on doing better, changing our self, rather thinking about our mistakes and imperfections.

Isma H. Chaudhry

Board of trustees chair, Islamic Center of Long Island, Westbury

The Arabic word for patience is “sbr.” Humanity is reminded of this virtuous attribute numerous times in the Quran. In the Islamic tradition, the act of submission to God’s will is interwoven with the commission of patience, which is considered an act of worship. “O’ you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer, indeed God is with the patient ones.” (Quran 2:153)

These are indeed challenging times, when the whole of humanity is faced with tribulations in the form of a pandemic; people have suffered the loss of their loved ones, livelihood and the comfort of social interaction, leading us to a state of anxiety and anguish.

As we are people of faith, the virtue of patience is imperative as it helps us recognize our human limitations and guides us in understanding and acknowledging the bounty of God Almighty. Patience is an all-encompassing, comprehensive virtue that leads us to enlightenment, forbearance and restraint while enhancing the human traits of kindness and compassion toward each other.

In these trying times, the best resolve is to exhibit patience with grace, dignity and God-fearing attributes, which will give us a pause to reflect.

Rabbi Joel M. Levenson

Midway Jewish Center, Syosset

We’re all living with uncertainty, but the Jewish people are quite familiar with this. Our ancestors were driven into exile, and instead of despairing they waited — waited for decades until they could go back to the land from which they had been driven. Several centuries later, they went into exile for a second time. They were scattered over every land. Again they waited — for 19 harsh centuries to be restored to the land that lived in their memories, their rituals, their prayers and their hopes. What a remarkable capacity to wait and a legacy for us today!

Long ago the Prophet Isaiah first enunciated the Jewish faith in a day when nations shall beat their swords into plowshares and the spears into pruning hooks, a day when justice would cover the Earth as the waters cover the seas. And while generations of Jews experienced little peace or justice, they reaffirmed their faith in the coming of these things and waited. They cultivated a vision of a messianic age and persisted in faith.

We have to be patient. We will get through this — of this I’m certain.

DO YOU HAVE QUESTIONS you’d like Newsday to ask the clergy? Email them to LILife@newsday.com.

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