Saint John Maximovich on the Little Things
It is hard to pray at night. But try in the morning. If you can’t manage to pray at home than at least as you ride to your place of employment attempt with a clear head the “Our Father” and let the words of this short prayer resound in your heart. And at night commend yourself with complete sincerity into the hands of the Heavenly Father. This indeed is very easy.
And give, give a glass of cold water to everyone who has need of it; give a glass filled to the brim with simple human companionship to everyone that lack it, the very simplest companionship…
O wondrous path of little things, I sing thee a hymn! Surround yourselves, O people, gird up yourselves with little works of good — with a chain of little, simple, easy and good feelings which cost us naught, a chain of bright thoughts, words and deeds. Let us abandon the big and the difficult. That is for them that love it and not for us for whom the Lord in His Mercy, for us who have not yet learned to love the greater, has poured forth the lesser love everywhere, free as water and air.
Doesn’t this just make you want to weep with relief?! Throughout my life, especially when I was home with my tiny children, I have agonized over my inability to do great things in the name of Christ. How was I to extract myself from the demands of my daily “mundane” responsibilities that I might get out there all in it and feed the hungry, comfort widows and orphans, travel to poverty stricken nations bearing much needed supplies and medicine? Heck, I could barely cross myself and pray a feeble, “Lord have mercy” before crashing into bed, or refrain from losing my temper about a thousand times a day.
…As a matter of fact, the lesser good is more necessary for mankind than the greater. People can get along with their lives without the greater good; without the lesser they can not exist. Mankind perishes not from a lack of the greater good, but from an insufficiency of just this lesser good. The greater good is no more than a roof, erected on the brick walls of the lesser good.
And yet here is this incredible reminder that even my little, simple life is rich with opportunities to deepen my faith. I can stuff warmth and kindness into my interactions. I can listen more than I speak. I can work on being productive and patient. I can pray as I go for wisdom and self-control. Spread out before me is my own perfect and God-ordained path toward salvation; every circumstance in which I find myself is an integral part of that path, with eternal ramifications, redeemable by Christ. Running errands, making dinner, folding laundry, data entry for my part-time job – yes, even these tasks are holy. Only I must remain attentive and thankful. Christ is in the present, looking ahead or behind does me no good at all.
Through such lesser, easy work, done with the greatest simplicity, a man is accustomed to the good and begins to serve it with his whole heart, sincerely, and in this way enters into an atmosphere of good, lets down the roots of his life into new soil, the soil of the good. The roots of human life quickly accommodate themselves to this good earth, and soon cannot live without it… Thus is a man saved: from the small comes the great. “Faithful in little things” turns out to be “faithful in the greater.”
And thus I begin this brand new day with renewed hope and determination. God, keep me faithful in, and grateful for, the little things that I might experience true joy and contentment, and generously spread that heavenly joy and contentment to others.