Monday, November 10, 2014

These Heroic Stones

Debbie at Saints 365 has written an immensely practical series of posts on living heroically one minute at a time. One minute of heroism added to another added to another added to another.

And it occurs to me.

Minute by minute heroics is a good way to cooperate with God in constructing the monastery of the heart. 

'Have you seen how that imposing building was built? One brick upon another. Thousands. But, one by one. And bags of cement, one by one. And blocks of stone, each of them insignificant compared with the massive whole. And beams of steel. And men working, the same hour, day after day.... Have you seen how that imposing building was built? ... By dint of little things!' (St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way 823) 

I am being given thousands, millions, of minutes to live on this earth. Each is insignificant compared with the whole .. but each one, added to each other one, is absolutely necessary to make up my life. I have the minutes, I have the mortar of free will, and I have the Architect's plan of Scripture.

In recent weeks, I have recognized one seemingly inconsequential way in which I haven't been following the plan all that well. Sometimes I grab a few perfectly good, newly minted minutes, and slap the mortar on them with a snarl. I have not considered this activity significant at all, because my snarls have been directed at "things." At inanimate objects like misbehaving computers, spoons that leap out of my hand onto the floor, remotes that play hide-and-seek.

I am anything but heroic when these items play their tricks. Huffs and grumbles and loud sighs pop right out of me in search of the offending object. "Take THAT snarl, you rotten, jumping spoon!"

I don't do this when others are around. At least - not when they're in the same room. Or, well, not when anyone is actually paying attention. Or, well, that's how it started. It began as a casual hrrumph here, an innocent snap there.  So what if it's becoming more of a habit?  It isn't as if it's hurting anything. Except, of course, a few hyperactive spoons.

But the development of such behavior is far from heroic. It is pulling me away from "heroism" toward a grumbling, critical habit of internal whining. If I let it, it can alter the way I look at life. It certainly is not seeing things "through the grille."

Having suddenly realized this, I am asking for grace to overcome my misuse of minutes. Minutes, each one precious, each one individual, in which I have the chance to be heroic. Not just passably good enough, but heroic. I don't have to give in to big sins, and I don't have to indulge in moments of whining.

If I am tempted to grumble - why, look at the opportunity I'm being given! I can resist the temptation, and I can thank God in that very moment. Thank You, Lord, that I have a computer on which to write of Your goodness, and if that device is acting up right now, give me patience to deal with it and to turn this moment to good. Thank you for a TV... may we use it to Your glory.  And thank You, Lord, for plenty of food to eat - I truly don't thank You enough for that. And thank You that I don't have to eat it with my hands.

Thank You for a nice, washable floor to catch all my spoons.

Painting (including detail): Henri Martin, in US public domain due to age


  1. This is wonderful, Nancy! I am reading Corrie ten Boom's The Hiding Place. She writes of how she and her sister will move to the center of the group of women standing at attention because it's the warmest spot, but then catches herself, realizing that she is being selfish, not caring about the other women on the outside of the group who may be cold. She notes that Satan will offer distract us with terrible evil (like the Nazi's) which keeps us from noticing the small, seemingly insignificant sins that we commit on a routine basis. Very powerfully convicting, as is this post!

    1. Anne, I LOVE The Hiding Place! I just finished reading it, for the many-eth time, a few weeks ago. It always puts things into perspective for me and makes me realize I have nothing to complain about. Thanks for your kind words!

  2. It's funny how inanimate objects seem to grow legs and walk away! On a more spiritual note, I've always had a hard time being thankful for food and saying grace before meals. I've never gone without so the thankful feeling isn't there. Can you give me any tips that have been helpful for you?

    1. Michelle, I'm glad someone else knows about those .. aha!! ... suddenly-sprouting legs! :)

      And about thankfulness: It helps me to remember that I don't have to FEEL thankful in order to BE thankful. I remind myself that thankfulness is a choice I can make. We don't have much control over our emotions, but we do have control over what we DO with (or in spite of) them. Just the fact that you want to be thankful strikes me as a sure sign that you are, whether you "feel" a huge sense of gratitude or not. Do you know what I mean by that .....maybe?

    2. I definitely see what you're saying. Sometimes just wanting to feel something, in this case being thankful for food, indicates that we're on the right path. I guess in times like this, we just need to let go and let God, as the saying goes, and let Him take the time to move us according to His plan.

  3. You make such a good point, Nancy. If we grumble at small things when we are alone it can become a habit and spread to other areas. For me, I notice how I begin in the morning sets the tone for the day (both for myself and my family). Thank you for another excellent post.

    Love Debbie's blog!

    1. Yes, Mary, yes! It becomes a habit, whether anyone else ever realizes we have grumbled!! And then we (I) can feel ever grumblier. I've had a few times recently of realizing I had an actual frown on my face, and I've been making myself smile when that happens.

      THAT should turn some heads in the grocery store when somebody catches me suddenly grinning at the cabbage......

  4. Replies
    1. Maybe like the deep rolling sound of grumbling thunder ... ;) ?

  5. That grace you are asking for....oh, I need it, too!
    All my wasted minutes..wasted stones left crumbling in a forgotten pile of time and un-ended dreams. Enclosure walls breached by my own doing..and not-doing!
    I want to be heroic too..and build a citadel for battle against the self-will.
    Beg some grace for me, I pray for you. xx


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