“For anything that is quickly obtained is also easily lost, whereas everything found with toil is also kept with careful watching.” - Saint Isaac the Syrian
Americans are not a particularly patient people, as demonstrated by the fact that the fast food industry began with us. We don’t tolerate slow service, thus much of the food we consume is prepared before we order it. We drive our car to a window, order our food, and expect it to be ready, without delay, at the next window. If we are church goers, we expect the service to end within one hour, on the dot. Our gardens are filled with flowers that come fully grown, are dropped into the soil, and look good from the very first watering. No waiting around for the germination of seeds, we want instant beauty.
If an appliance breaks down, we buy a new one, rather than wait a week for repairs. We throw ourselves into the latest fad diet promising fast weight loss, only to see the weight come back after we’ve tired of the menu. We don’t apprentice for a career, but walk out of a university with the expectation our career will begin on day one. Many of our children are allowed to dress in adult pop fashion, resulting in the loss of innocence, and the precious sweetness of childhood is transformed into a sort of miniature adult.
Since we have grown accustomed to having everything happen quickly, and without delay, we also expect our spiritual lives to be on the same quick time line. We don’t have the patience to build upon the knowledge of the holy fathers, so we don’t practice regular spiritual reading. Our church attendance is limited to the essential Sunday Liturgy, and even then we arrive late and perhaps leave before the Thanksgiving Prayers have been concluded. If fasting is difficult for us, we don’t fast at all. If keeping a Prayer Rule is tedious, we don’t try at all to develop a set time for our prayers. If our mind wanders during prayer, we let it, avoiding even the least amount of struggle.
If we hope to make progress in the spiritual life it is good to remember the words of Saint Isaac the Syrian, “For anything that is quickly obtained is also easily lost, whereas everything found with toil is also kept with careful watching.”
With love in Christ,
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