I have been reading Foster’s book Prayer, Finding the Hearts True Home. I think it is a good resource, full of information on prayer that I need to know and want to understand. Certainly prayer as I knew it when a child was simpler – just a list of what I needed from God and a few thank-yous thrown in because it was good and proper to be thankful to God.
I have slowly been going through the chapter on Formation Prayer(p65). The section in this chapter entitled “The Little Way” introduced me to the thoughts of Theresa of Lisieux. It is interesting to me that my husband’s home town in southern Saskatchewan was Lisieux – a very French Canadian Catholic town of course. I never paid much attention to the reason for her sainthood.
I find myself coming back to this section. Something in it seemed to grab my attention, sort of like saying “Read this part carefully. You need to hear this.”
I often have trouble seeing God’s activity in my routines, the trivial details of my day at work or at home. Most of the time there is little to cause one to think of what I do as valuable work being done for God. Those times when I do see God at work through me are such extremely rewarding events that I long for more of the same. I guess there is nothing so wrong with that but it is hard to see that my contribution in emptying the dishwasher, cleaning the tub, or filling a little cavity in on an overindulged middle class teenager is significant is God’s eyes.
Theresa advocated what she called “The Little Way”. According to Foster:
“The Little Way, as she called it, is deceptively simple. It is, in short, to seek out the menial job, to welcome unjust criticisms, to befriend those who annoy us, to help those who are ungrateful. For her part, Therese was convinced that these ‘trifles’ pleased Jesus more than the great deeds of recognized holiness…opportunities to live in this way come to us constantly, while the great fidelities happen only now and again. Almost daily we can give smiling service to nagging co-workers, listen attentively to silly bores, express little kindnesses without making a fuss.
We may think these tiny, trivial activities are hardly worth mentioning. That of course is precisely their value. They are unrecognized conquests over selfishness. We will never receive a medal or even a ‘thank you’ for these invisible victories in ordinary life – which is exactly what we want.”(p65)
I sure am far from this ideal. I like just a tiny bit of recognition anyway. It makes me feel good.
Foster goes on to quote one example where Therese “set” herself “to treat her as if I loved her best of all” when faced with having to deal with another person who irritated her. Dealing with the trivial, mundane and disagreeable events in my life – well I usually try to avoid dealing with them and would rather wish them away. Not usually a good solution. But choosing to deal with these circumstances by working at loving the people caught up in them or worse yet, causing them, is a level of perfection I have sure not reached.