It may sometimes seem that the earnestness and the pervasiveness of the religious life as described by Henry Ware thus far (see all posts labeled Ware Jr) sounds unreasonable or even dreary. This is deeply unfortunate because, in reality, Ware is in love with his God (so to speak) and wants his reader to be so as well. It is not a short or easy path, but the rewards of even walking it are great. Ware concludes Chapter One thus:
"It is plain, then, that the work to which you address yourself is arduous as well as delightful. It is not to be done in a short time, nor by a few indolent or violent efforts...but only by a surrender of the whole man and the entire life to the will of God, in faith, affection, and action: by a thorough imitation of Jesus in the devout and humble temper of his mind, in the spirtuality of his affections and in the purity and loveliness of his conduct...Be on your guard, therefore, from the first, against setting your mark too low. Do not allow yourself to be persuaded that anything less is Religion, or will answer for you, than its complete and highest measure...Remember always, that you are capable of being more devout, more charitable, more humble, more devoted and earnest in doing good, better acquainted with religious truth...Happy they who are so filled with longings after spiritual good, that they go on improving to the end of their days."
The great Zen teacher Dogen said that when we sit in meditation, for that moment we are already enlightened. For Ware, and many of the Boston Unitarians, the moment by moment practice of doing the next right thing (no matter how small) and doing it intentionally, is living a religious life. It may not be, in itself, poetic or dramatic, but it is a higher and nobler life, and it is available to everyone. Blessings