Little Flower

“I know now that true charity consists in bearing all our neighbors’ defects–not being surprised at their weakness, but edified at their virtues.”–St Thérèse de Lisieux

I have not been doing very good with my generosity since the weekend ended. My cat (MauMau) started crying by my bed 10 minutes before my alarm went off yesterday and today, and instead of waking up ready and willing to start my day, I carried the situation out for 20 more minutes, then exploded at the cat making him run out of the room. Not very considerate to both the cat and Logan trying to sleep. After half-haphazardly getting ready, I start my 45 minute drive to work on a single lane highway. Yesterday me and about 15 other cars were stuck behind a slow-moving old woman driving a Buick, so my commute suddenly turned into an hour and 15 minutes long. Then came chain of events that were clearly a results of the irritated and exhausted mood the morning put me in.

I know everyone has irritations, so I wont document all of mine, but I will say that today I let my selfishness be my downfall. When an old man got lost in our building, I barely mustered the energy to help him. Even then, all I did was put a forced smile on my face and direct him to the right floor. The constant aimlessness of the senior citizens in Florida is starting to make me jaded.  I need to remember the good-will I felt coming down here to help my grandparents, and my morals to respect my elders. Instead, I’m usually left only remembering the times I got stuck behind a senior-citizen going 20 mph under the speed limit, who probably shouldn’t have their license anymore; or I remember the times I was next in line after an elderly couple at lunch, who couldn’t seem to remember what they like.

This reminded me of St Thérèse de Lisieux (or Little Flower) who was famous for killing with kindness. The story goes that there was one nun at Thérèse’s convent that she didn’t like, describing her in a memoir as, “a Sister who has the faculty of displeasing me in everything, in her ways, her words, her character.” Instead of getting outwardly angry with her, she treated her as if she “loved her best of all”. She managed to do this so well that when Thérèse died, the nun that displeased her so much said, “At least I can say this much for myself: during her life I made [Thérèse] really happy.” It wasn’t until 30 years later that someone admitted to her that she was the “disagreeable Sister” from Thérèse’s book Story of the Soul.

In another story she describes how irritated she was with one of her Sisters for playing with her rosary noisily during prayers. Once again, instead of snapping at her she said, “I set myself to listen as though it had been some delightful music, and my meditation, which was not the ‘prayer of quiet,’ passed in offering this music to our Lord.”

I need to channel St Thérèse de Lisieux this week.

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