Practice Makes Perfect
The Eight of Coins is the card of repetition and uniformity. In the Marseille Deck, you can see that the coins are all set out in neat, tidy little pairs. In Waite’s deck, the Eight of Pentacles depicts an artisan working with hammer and chisel to produce one pentacle after another. He is alone, and far apiece from the village in the background. I’ve always thought of this card as a representation of “time in the woodshed” where we hone our skills through repetition.
As a musician, I have come to know firsthand the need for practice. I play a variety of instruments, and each time I take up a new one it requires weeks and weeks of daily practice to learn even the basics, and many months more to gain any sort of proficiency. It is through a series both of massed repetitions and spaced repetitions that we become fluent, and can play a piece with ease.
They go out, they go out, full of tears, carrying seed for the sowing: they come back, they come back, full of song, carrying their sheaves. – Psalm 126:6
I strikes me that the same thing is true of our spiritual development. If we are to find meaning, to find a way to live in the world that is good, to learn to live with ease of heart, then dedication to daily spiritual practice is required.
Krishna Das speaks about spiritual development being a process of ripening. Each moment that we spend in meditation, or prayer, or reading scripture, or devotional chant, we plant a seed. Over time, almost imperceptibly, some of those seeds take root, and grow and bear fruit. When that fruit ripens, we reap the reward.
We do not know which seeds will grow, or when the ripening will come. So we are faithful planters, day in and day out, and we trust God for the harvest.