“Keep watch over your thoughts and scrutinize your intellect, captive as they are to sin. Discover the serpent that nestles within the inner chambers of your soul, attacking and destroying your sensitivites. For truly the heart is an immeasurable abyss.”
St. Markarios of Egypt
My route to work each morning takes me through the dreaded stoplight at Regent and Spooner Streets. In turning onto Regent my potential delay is twofold; I not only have to wait for an apparent eternity as one-tenth of my daily commute time is spent waiting one-hundredth of the distance from my destination, I also have large numbers of school children contending to cross their way to Randell School. Traffic from the other direction takes its turn first in the signal rotation, then me and finally Regent gets its seemingly endless right of way. The other day as I sat waiting, an “opponent” raced to the light to trip its sensor and,with improper protocol, cross the Mighty Regent. He did not make it, however, and a satisfied grin crossed my face as I “properly” took “my turn” having “paid my dues” to the gods of stoplight waiting. As I approached my usual parking spot I caught myself in an unbecoming state of self-satisfaction. Why was I so happy about beating that car through this daily, annoying obstacle? Why couldn’t I have been happy to have waited out the sensor for both myself and for my late arriving neighbor? St. Paul said: “outdo one another in showing honor.” (Rom. 12.10) Another translation reads, “in honor giving preference to one another.” This verse came to mind as I immediately saw my “amartia”, my “missing of the mark.” We live in such a competitive world where from our youth we are taught resentment rather than rejoicing for another’s opportunity or well-being.
In some ways my little car scene is such a silly example, but knowing that thoughts and words proceed from the heart and, like a mirror, reflect a condition of ones spiritual heart, even the most harmless looking incidents cannot be ignored.
What a joy it would be to be able to follow the above words of St. Paul. Unity and peace are inspired by courtesy not oneupsmanship. Our common struggle for holiness and purity begins with each thought, each action of kindness and preference towards our neighbor. This is God’s Grace. This is God’s Kingdom already begun within us. This is the command of Christ!