I have noticed in my daily struggle that most of the things that are of importance turn on very “small things.” The decisions that set me on the course of prayer or kindness are made not with fanfare or even large efforts, but on a moment’s turn. By the same token, the decisions that set me on a course of sin are often so small that I can hardly notice that they were decisions at all.
History books are written about large things – making the in between times in our lives seem insignificant and not worth much trouble. Generally, large decisions are made because we have reached an unavoidable crossroad – but a crossroad that would not exist except for many, even hundreds, of small so-called insignificant decisions.
Dostoevsky is correct that God and the devil engage in warfare and the battleground is the human heart. However, the battle is often fought in very small skirmishes. Brief encounters with the good and brief encounters with evil.
It is not true that the little things do not matter. It may well be that the little things are all we will ever encounter. It is true in every great battle. The historians write about large movements of troops and the effect of terrain – but those who actually do the fighting are aware of each stroke of the sword, of the difficulty of fighting wounded, or without food or rest.
By the same token, those who take up their prayers and beg for the mercy of God, may appear to be engaged in a very small thing. Yet prayer is never small. If it has gained the ear of the God of the universe, how can it ever be small?
No act of kindness is ever too small. No generosity of spirit is ever insignificant. No harsh word not spoken is a minor act of restraint. No effort of forgiveness is without value.
This is the day of salvation. It may come in a thousand discreet moments, every one of which is alive with the fire of God. May He gives us grace to know that all that we are, have and do, is truly great and worthy of every prayer and effort of grace. We draw near to the end of Lent (for the Orthodox). The benefit we will have gained will rest on the grace we have received – mostly as we went faithfully about the small things. Even Pascha itself – for us – will largely consist in our efforts to be present. Christ is our Pascha. We do not have to make it happen. We need only come to the feast. Christ our Pascha is sacrificed for us, therefore let us keep the feast.