In which we do not see

I’ve been thinking lately how very often the physical plane belies the spiritual plane. Far too often we only recognize the spiritual plane when it is embodied in the physical. We recognize the bravery of the soldier, the selflessness of the firefighter, the charity of the martyr, because the physical and spiritual are united in those actions. I think though that when, at the end of time, we see each life played out, we will marvel to find that some of earth’s greatest acts of true charity were seen at the time as utterly unremarkable. They were seen, but not seen. That is to say, we saw the physical, but could not pierce the veil of the spiritual.

We say to ourselves, “I am not doing great things for God.” But St. Therese has taught us nothing if not that we are to do small things with great love. In every day, at every moment, Christ desires something from us. In almost every moment, what he desires of us is completely mundane: working, cleaning, talking to someone, waiting in line. And yet, in that moment, that is God’s will for us. “I am not doing great things for God?” On the contrary, all we can do is His will for us. That is the great thing. It’s how we act in that moment that determines the greatness.

As St. Therese relates, “…I was working in the laundry, and the Sister opposite, while washing handkerchiefs, repeatedly splashed me with dirty water. My first impulse was to draw back and wipe my face, to show the offender I should be glad if she would behave more quietly; but the next minute I thought how foolish it was to refuse the treasures God offered me so generously, and I refrained from betraying my annoyance. On the contrary, I made such efforts to welcome the shower of dirty water, that at the end of half an hour I had taken quite a fancy to this novel kind of aspersion, and I resolved to come as often as I could to the happy spot where such treasures were freely bestowed…[Y]ou see that I am a very little soul, who can only offer very little things to Our Lord.”

A “little thing” and yet the result is a “treasure.” Yet what would our earthly eyes see in this scene? Two women washing dishes. Completely unremarkable. We do not see, truly, many such scenes: a man offering a word of encouragement though he himself is saddened; a mother with eyes closed, rocking her child; two women washing dishes. In the end, when the veil between physical and spiritual is finally rent, and we witness these scenes in eternity, we will gasp and weep to behold their true beauty.

“…I had offered myself to the Child Jesus to be His little plaything. I told Him not to treat me like one of those precious toys which children only look at and dare not touch, but to treat me like a little ball of no value, that could be thrown on the ground, kicked about, pierced, left in a corner, or pressed to His Heart just as it might please Him…In Rome Jesus pierced His little plaything. He wanted to see what was inside . . . and when satisfied, He let it drop and went to sleep. What was He doing during His sweet slumber, and what became of the ball thus cast on one side? He dreamed that He was still at play, that He took it up or threw it down, that He rolled it far away, but at last He pressed it to His Heart, nor did He allow it again to slip from His tiny Hand.”

St. Therese, pray for us!