“My brother, if you wish to live well, spend the remaining days of life with death firmly before your eyes.” (Saint Alphonsus Liguori).
We have been in lockdown for the latest COVID-19 pandemic for what feels like forever now. So, there are not many – or any – places to go. This means that I have spent several long months now, staring at the insides of my rather disorganised cupboards.
And so, the inevitable began to happen… The inefficiencies in the current layout of the cupboards started to bother me very much indeed, and so I resigned myself to the rather ridiculous – and mostly unnecessary – task of rearranging the inside of all the cupboards in our home.
At first, I started with one little cupboard. After all, in the kitchen, the corner cupboard door is starting to look a little ragged, and so I decided that I should move the crockery out from that cupboard and into another one. “Just one little cupboard,” I had thought to myself rather naively, “How much work could it actually be?”
But goodness me, as I looked up from that small corner cupboard I noticed the same cupboard on the other side was looking a little bit untidy, and so, across I went to look at what was going on in there. And one thing led to another…
After all, if I moved the crockery, I would surely need to move the glasses, and then the mugs, and then the tea and coffee things, and then the medicines. Then, the hallway cupboard where we stored extra appliances needed to be re-arranged because some of those appliances could be moved into the extra space that the sorting and rearranging had made in the kitchen. And this is not to mention the plastic container shelf – the bane of any kitchen in my opinion – which needed a good sort while I was in the mood for reorganising.
And so, one thing led to another in much the same way that we grow in prayer! You see, it all starts with one small habit…
I heard a talk by a priest who I do not know some time ago. In that talk, the priest recounted the tale of his own sister’s conversion to faith. For many years, the priest’s sister had been a non-practicing Catholic. One day, she approached the priest, her brother, to ask for his advice on how she could give God another go… She had no idea what to do. Her brother – the priest – advised her to do one thing only for an entire month and come back and talk to him about it after 30 days had passed. “And what was this advice?” I hear you wondering. Well, it was simple. He told his sister, every morning when you open your eyes, make sure that the first words that you say in the morning are “Good morning and thank you God.”
And that was the start of her conversion. One little prayer – because that is exactly what that small phrase was every morning. One little prayer to invite God in. It is good advice, and it follows the advice of the Saints. After all, Saint John Vianney said, “We must take great care never to do anything before having said our morning prayers... The Devil once declared that if he could have the first moment of the day, he was sure of all the rest.”
One little change is all it takes to start the avalanche… just like cleaning up one cupboard helped to get me started on organising the others…
But cleaning the cupboards is not without its discomfort. After all, the cupboards were packed and arranged in a certain way for many years. And now – suddenly – things have changed. People in the house forget where things are – they need help finding things for a while. That is okay too! That is what Grace is for. The more we pray and turn to God, the more Grace we get.
It is just a little change in direction. And sometimes, that change is all that we really need. After all, Saint Alphonsus Liguori said, “My brother, if you wish to live well, spend the remaining days of life with death firmly before your eyes.”
And I guess that is how it is for me these days, because things have changed… Just like the cupboards…
And I have only God to thank for that!
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.