Treasured times in life include those mornings where Henry and I chat over coffee. As the sun rises, the cloud and sky morph through an infinite spectrum of colour from darkness to light, and we discuss, debate, and dabble in a vast set of interlinked subjects and concepts from personal joy or frustration to theological concepts or hilarious comedy. These quiet moments hone my heart, sharpen my thinking, strengthen my marriage and grow my love for God, for truth, and for my husband.
Today on All Saints’ Day, the conversation morphed, not through the list of well-known miracle workers, but through the necessity of humble unrewarding tasks, the clarity of knowing where we are to serve, our attitudes, the importance of an ordered life, in productive functions and whether rest is productive or not. We listened to British poet Malcolm Guite and a watched a video interview on The Lost World of Genesis One by American theologian John Walton.
There was more discussed today, but the primary epiphany was this: how glibly we glide past those who humbly serve in silence, who deliver our coffee, who keep statistics, balance the books, care for little ones, clean the road signs or paint the street lines, clean the toilets…
Here is where true sainthood is born. The miracle of a life spent faithfully executing one’s assigned tasks, in the humblest setting, without recognition or thanks. The discipline of doing what is often taken for granted, rarely noticed, yet done with a willing, patient, uncomplaining spirit. Perhaps “anyone could do it,” but they don’t. So these quiet saints plod pleasantly along, making life more bearable for thousands who rarely if ever realize, acknowledge or express thanks.
St. Therese of Lisieux is one of the patron saints of missions, not because she ever went anywhere, but because of her special love of missions, and the prayers and letters she gave in support of missionaries. She lived only 24 years and was an obscure nun for nine of those. She loved flowers and gave glory to God by just being her beautiful little self among all the other flowers in God's garden.
The world came to know Therese through her autobiography, Story of a Soul. She lived each day with an unshakable confidence in God's love. "What matters in life," she wrote, "is not great deeds, but great love." This is reminder to all of us who feel we can do nothing, that it is the little things that keep God's kingdom growing.
So persevere, my friend. Look alone to your own personal task. Remember the Saviour who did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life. (Matthew 20:28). Forget what is behind, disregard what others are doing or telling you to do or not do, eliminate comparisons from your mind (we always are on the losing end, our private life and personal stumbles held alongside others’ highlight reels).
Press on. Do the next thing.