From Lauren in Baltimore (who is currently in Denver, celebrating her mother's birthday and chrismation -- on the same day! Many years!)
The Lord gives us an infinite number of blessings every day, from our very existence as we awaken from sleep, to the food we eat and the families we love. So often, though, I am blind to most of these blessings, wandering through my life in spiritual oblivion. I focus on things that I can't have: that car, that athleticism, that ability to be a morning person. As I was contemplating this maxim, "be grateful", I felt very ungrateful. Sure, I thank God for many things in my life, but I suspect that if I was truly grateful for even one blessing God has given me, I would never again complain about anything.
God hears our prayers, and always answers them, even though we don't always see how He works things out in our lives. How often do we pray and thank God for things? I'm more of a "foul-weather fan". When the going gets rough, I turn to God, but when things are nice, I forget that He even exists.
I hope that during this time of Great Lent, I learn to appreciate all that God has given me, both big and small, commonplace and extraordinary, easy or difficult. One thing is certain, I am very grateful to God that He answered my prayers, and led my mother to the Orthodox Church. Her reception into the Church, on the same day as her birthday, reminds me that every day is a new beginning, a rebirth and a time to begin life again in wonder of all of God's gifts to us.
The Forty Maxims
- 1. Be always with Christ and trust God in everything.
- 2. Pray, fast and do acts of mercy.
- 3. Read the Scriptures regularly.
- 4. Read good books, a little at a time.
- 5. Practice silence, inner and outer.
- 6. Cultivate communion with the saints.
- 7. Be an ordinary person, one of the human race.
- 8. Live a day, even a part of a day, at a time.
- 9. Be honest, first of all with yourself.
- 10. Be faithful in little things.
- 11. Do your work, then forget it.
- 12. Do the most difficult and painful things first.
- 13. Face reality.
- 14. Be grateful.
- 15. Be cheerful.
- 16. Be simple, hidden, quiet and small.
- 17. Never bring unnecessary attention to yourself.
- 18. Listen when people talk to you.
- 19. Be awake and attentive, fully present where you are.
- 20. Think and talk about things no more than necessary.
- 21. Speak simply, clearly, firmly, directly.
- 22. Flee imagination, fantasy, analysis.
- 23. Flee carnal things at their first appearance.
- 24. Don’t complain, grumble, murmur or whine.
- 25. Don’t seek or expect pity or praise.
- 26. Don’t compare yourself with anyone.
- 27. Don’t judge anyone for anything.
- 28. Don’t try to convince anyone of anything.
- 29. Don’t defend or justify yourself.
- 30. Be defined and bound by God, not people.
- 31. Accept criticism gracefully and test it carefully.
- 32. Give advice only when asked or when it is your duty.
- 33. Be strict with yourself.
- 34. Be merciful with yourself and others.
- 35. Do nothing for people that they can do for themselves.
- 36. Have a healthy, wholesome hobby.
- 37. Have no expectations except to be fiercely tempted to your last breath.
- 38. Endure the trial of yourself and your faults serenely, under God’s mercy.
- 39. When you fall, get up immediately and start over.
- 40. Get help when you need it, without fear or shame.