A reflection by Trevor Miller.
One of the many sayings of the Desert Fathers that are so profoundly simple that they are simply profound is this one, ‘Abba Poeman said about Abba Prior that every single day he made a fresh beginning.’ At its heart is the proven wisdom of both Scripture and Tradition that urges us to be committed to the daily discipline of living a day at a time. Not as an assent to head knowledge, (yeah, that’s right) but as an activity of heart knowledge, (this I must do in order to live!) We are of course surrounded by its teaching in our daily office, in our liturgies. For example, ‘This day be within and without me’ ‘This day is a new day that has never been before’ ‘I bind unto myself this day’, so much so that we need always to be aware of the danger of allowing familiarity to breed contempt.
This is one of God’s great gifts to us – a new beginning each and every day. As Jeremiah said ‘Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness’. We’ve all heard the sayings ‘Today is the first day of the rest of your life’. ‘Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday’ but none are as good as the story of Asterix the Gaul and in particular his chief, Vital Statistix, who is described as majestic, commanding respect, feared by his enemies. However he himself had one fear ‘that the sky would fall on his head tomorrow’ but he comforted himself with the fact that tomorrow never comes.’ And it doesn’t, because when tomorrow comes it is no longer tomorrow but today.
This commitment to living our lives in manageable portions, of having a continuity of new and fresh beginnings is essential to our sanity – otherwise we so easily get crucified between two thieves, regret for yesterday, fear of tomorrow, both of which rob us of the grace needed for today. It’s not that we forget or deny the events, happenings and hurts of each day but that each day we can make a fresh start and bring a fresh perspective, having slept on it, and having gone to our cell. What has this day brought? Joy, frustration, boredom, anger, peace, resentment, hope, challenge?! ‘Take it to the Lord in prayer: in His arms He’ll take and shield thee. Thou wilt find a solace there’. That’s going to your cell, unpacking the baggage there, finding your true self among it all. This is the way to growth, to holiness, to Christlikeness, and for all of us, this growth takes place in the ordinary events that make up each day. The extraordinary moments – Paul on the Damascus road, Mary at the Annunciation, Isaiah in the Temple will only come to us; can only come to us if we are first prepared and made ready by a day-to-day faithfulness in the ordinary. Not living out fiction, fantasy and fables of our own making.
This day be within and without me………..
- By being really with what is going on around us, and not too elsewhere
- By being present to the people God brings to us today
- By being who we really are
In this way we experience the presence of God incarnationally in the here and now. This is what Jesus said ‘Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own – Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well’.