There are so MANY ways to be in denial! On one TV episode of “Hoarders” even while standing among mountains of items that threatened to topple onto him a man said, “I don’t think we’re hoarders. We just outgrew the house.” For the viewer the statement is ludicrous since he is surrounded by the evidence of his illness! But then again it is so much easier to see another’s illness! How many of us also delude ourselves by how we talk about things? Instead of admitting that we lied we say that we simply mis-spoke or “made a mistake”. Instead of admitting outright we didn’t want to do something we say we forgot. Instead of admitting that we were wrong we say “It’s not my fault!” In trying to fool others in the end we fool ourselves which leaves us clueless as to why we do what we do or why we want what we want!
One of my favorite Desert Fathers tales begins with some pilgrims going out into the desert to visit the hermits. They came to one who received them with joy and seeing they were tired invited them to eat before the accustomed time and placed before them all the food he had available. But that night when they were all supposed to be sleeping the hermit heard the pilgrims talking among themselves and saying, “These hermits eat more than we do!” At dawn the pilgrims set out to visit another hermit and their host said to greet other hermits with this message: “Be careful to not water the vegetables.”
The second hermit understood what the message meant so he made the visitors sit down in the hot sun and weave baskets with him until evening! Then he said he did not usually eat every day but because they came along he would give them a little treat which turned out to be dry bread and salt! After supper they started praying the psalms and kept at it until deep into the night. Eventually the hermit remarked since they were probably tired from their journey and wouldn’t likely finish all of the daily prayers he said they should take a little rest before resuming the prayers again! The pilgrims wanted to leave the hermit but he protested that charity demanded he keep them for another 2 or 3 days! The pilgrims waited until the hermit was asleep and under cover of night made off!
Those with a spiritual bent can delude themselves about spirituality by being attracted to the intricacies of various available theologies! Instead of “The Grand Scheme” how about engaging in a theology of “little things?” Look to the small and ordinary moments in our daily living which afford us the opportunity to live out those realities to which the grand concepts point! Instead of talking about treating all people equal how about on the way home from work you buy a meal-to-go and hand it to the first homeless person you come across? Instead of talking about bringing peace to the world why not call up that friend who we cut out of our life and apologize? Instead of talking about love in general why not show gratitude to someone in particular? For those always wanting “more and better” or those pursuing grand theologies to become wiser how about if we notice the little moments in daily life where we might actually discover ourselves?