I have seen a queen of France with 18 million livres of diamonds on her person, but I declare that all the charms of her face and figure added to all the glitter of her jewels did not impress me as much as that little shrub right there. Now your mother always said that I never delighted enough in the mundane, but now I find that if I look at even the smallest thing my imagination begins to roam the milky way!
~ John Adams in the HBO miniseries
From Mr. Merton. Read this today. I love this man and his heart. Being dead he still speaks, and speaks so well. Consider this an addendum to the last Way havering on having a slower gait. How little we observe the great work of sunrise, as we obsessively engage in our own imagined “great work.” How observing the great work of sunrise equips and empowers us for the truly great work of observing and embracing the smaller things that we are called to see and do.
Most of us imagine ourselves and aspire to be magisters – doers of great things, the great ones, the trendsetters, the proverbial movers and shakers making a name for ourselves (all to His glory, of course, and for the greater good). How few are sensible to the fact that we are all only ministers – doers of little things. Most embarking on the path of ministry sadly seek to be magistrates more than ministers, exercising control, issuing decrees, enforcing dogmas, rather than ministers armed only with an invisible bowl and towel and in search of dirty feet – as well as offering their own.
But enough from me. Hear Merton.
The great work of sunrise again today.
The awful solemnity of it. The sacredness. Unbearable without prayer and worship. I mean unbearable if you really put everything else aside and see what is happening! Many, no doubt, are vaguely aware that it is dawn, but they are protected from the solemnity of it by the neutralizing worship of their own society, their own world, in which the sun no longer rises and sets.
Sense of importance, the urgency of seeing, fully aware, experiencing what is here: not what is given by men, by society, but what is given by God and hidden by (even monastic) society. Clear realization that I must begin with these first elements. That it is absurd to inquire after my function in the world, or whether I have one, as long as I am not first of all alive and awake. And if that, and no more, is my job (for it is certainly every man’s job), then I am grateful for it. The vanity of all false missions, when no one is sent. All the universal outcry of people who have not been told to cry out, but who are driven to this noise by their fear, their lack of what is right in front of their noses.
Good tonic indeed.
Oh to see like this as a way of life…