It’s so easy to get caught up in the big things and to be looking always forward so that we miss out on life itself. I’ve seen a few memes recently saying “I’ll be happy when . . . “ and “Life will get easier when . . . “. But are we putting off happiness and the enjoyment of life constantly due to ever-moving targets? If so, then we miss the goodness and the joy and the beauty around us every day, as we are holding out for something else, something bigger.
What I find is that life is messy. It’s never easy or straightforward. We don’t seem to go very long until another major issue crops up. Sometimes it feels as if it’s just one issue then another, with no downtime to recover or re-group in between. There are so many things we can’t control, and we certainly can’t control other people! Sometimes people act in ways that we can’t understand or that seem irrational to us. We each have a different perspective and it can be hard to see outside of this.
Stopping to enjoy the little things in life is challenging in the modern, fast-paced world, and when you are balancing family and work. Our littlest girl commented on a beautiful rose in bloom a couple of weeks ago. We have one very oddly-situated old rose bush in the garden. It made me stop because it was beautiful – with a stunning orange/pink colour and it smelt amazing. I realised we were literally stopping to smell the roses, and were experiencing joy and giving praise in the God-given creation around us. It was a powerful reminder to do just that.
When do we lose this ability – to stop and smell the roses? I think it comes with the start of school. Life becomes very structured and purposeful, and often children are rushed from school to home or after-school activities, and then to dinner and then to bed. For parents of young children or many children, the end game is getting them all in bed. The process and this focus can mean that all the lovely moments that could occur in that time and space can be lost.
I think faith can be like this too. We go to Mass but, in-between Masses, we live in the world and, for many of us, God or Jesus or Christianity is not at all evident in our day-to-day work and we almost aren’t even allowed to mention our faith. It’s easy to let our attention slip from all the little things – all the little things to be grateful for, all the chances to offer a prayer of thanks, all the times we can offer a sacrifice, and all the times we can offer a prayer for someone in need. There are so many little opportunities that can get lost and overlooked.
St Therese of Lisieux said, “Remember that nothing is small in the eyes of God. Do all that you do with love”. Every small thing we do with love, we do for Christ. I often think that the not-so-good things we do overshadow in our minds the good things that we do. This, to me, is one of the reasons why confession is so important. When we examine our consciences, we can then cleanse our soul of sin and start anew to focus. We can look to the small things which will help keep us grounded, and try to refocus on Christ and away from materialism and the modern anxieties which surround us.
John 15:5; “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing.”