Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It All Matters

Or, In this sense, too, the Orthodox Insist Works are Necessary

Warning: What follows is preachy, even though I'm mostly preaching to myself. Skip it if you're not in the mood.

We are used to realizing, with respect to diet, that what we eat and drink matters. It matters whether we drink whole milk or low-fat. It matters whether we add the jam to my toast or leave it off. To many of us, it matters a great deal whether our morning coffee is decaffeinated or not. It matters how many calories we consume; if you could lose just one pound a week, you’d be 52 pounds slimmer by this time next year or 25 pounds lighter by April!

Most of us are also aware that it matters whether and how much we exercise. Just 10 minutes of brisk walking every day would do each of us worlds of good. Lifting 2 pounds may not seem like much, but do it for a while and very soon, you’ll be up to 10 and more and your body will be acquiring a nice definition.

We all know it matters how much alcohol we consume and whether we smoke that cigarette or not.

What must of us remain willfully unaware of is that every single choice we make throughout our whole lives matters – in a similar way, too.

Usually we tell ourselves that whatever we decide to do with this moment makes no difference, but it does. Everything we do or do not do builds or reinforces or weakens neuron patterns in our brains. Every decision we make either promotes healthy growth or places a tiny block to normal growth. (And we’re all still growing, our whole lives long, not just when we are children. Or to put it another way, we are all still spiritual children.) Everything we do leaves its imprint upon us (and quite literally upon our brains). Everything we do reforms or deforms us; in religious terminology, leads us toward heaven or drags us toward hell. The immediate effect of our decisions and actions is miniscule, but the cumulative effect is unimaginably enormous.

It matters whether I spend the next hour praying or vacuuming or doing puzzles. It matters whether I shall set out to please myself or to live for something higher than myself. It matters whether I watch trash on television, loading up my consciousness with violence, horror, death, and gore, or whether I take St. Paul’s advice: “Whatever is true, whatever is honest, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatsoever is lovely, whatever is of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)


Anam Cara said...

Amen. You put it all so well.....

GretchenJoanna said...

"Everything we do reforms or deforms us." That is a sentence I pray gets repeated in my mind as a reminder throughout the day. Thank you.

Christopher D. Hall said...

Thanks for that sermon :)