On Mosquitoes and Grace

Don't you love it when something small catches your eye and then by some chance it feeds into something much bigger and your mind buzzes with the serendipity of it all?

Here's the deal...

This popular quote cropped up on several blogs as I was doing a search for something on change...

"If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito." 

Dalai Lama XIV
and then I was fascinated to find that Fr. Ron Rolheiser has also been thinking of the little beasties in his  wonderful post here today on Mosquito bites which is a flip side of the Dalai Lama''s ideas .  

On a personal note, I contracted malaria when I was in Malawi and am also now allergic to mosquito bites so for me mosquitoes are definitely more than an irritation. Malaria is responsible for over killing 1 million a year , mostly children in Africa. 

Ninety per cent of malaria deaths occur in Africa, where malaria accounts for about one in five of all childhood deaths. In the school where I taught we had a chalk board that showed the daily numbers of students with malaria and there were usually 8-10 a day in a school of  three hundred. There were one or two deaths a term and one of my Canadian teaching colleagues was hospitalised for several weeks with cerebral malaria and nearly died. 

So I think it's important to realise that Fr.Rolheiser's piece is talking about the non malaria mosquito.

In this edited extract below Rolheiser says :

"Mosquito bites can easily cause us to lose perspective, to lose the big picture, the one that would have us see and celebrate grace, even in the face of some minor irritation. A minor irritation can make us lose sight of a huge grace.
Today there is a rich spiritual and psychological literature that challenges us to try to live more fully inside the present moment and not let our heartaches about the past or our anxieties about tomorrow cheat us out of the riches of today. But, as we as know, that is easier said than done. 

Elements from our past - half-remembered lullabies from childhood, an almost--forgotten face, a past love, an humiliation on the playground deep in our past, a misstep that still haunts us, and thousand other things from our past - impale themselves into our present. 

And the future, as well, colors our present as we anxiously worry about an impending decision, the meeting we must have tomorrow, what the doctor is going to tell us at our next visit, and how will meet our next mortgage bill. The present moment never comes to us pure.

And yet the challenge remains, an important and healthy challenge: Don't let the mosquito bites within life blind you to the larger presence of grace! One of my favorite spiritual writers, David Steindl-Rast articulates this challenge very strongly, though he does it by emphasizing the positive.

 "You think this is just another day in your life. It's not just another day; it's the one day that is given to you today. It's given to you; it's a gift.  It's the only gift that you have right now, and the only appropriate response is gratefulness. If you do nothing else but to cultivate that response to the great gift that this unique day is, if you learn to respond as if it were the first day of your life and very last day, then you will have spent this day very well."

But that is a grace that does not come easily, it must be fervently prayed for. Mosquitoes will inevitably make their presence known at every picnic in our lives.

That's a given. The challenge is to not lose sight of the larger presence of grace because of minor irritations.

You can read the rest here

 I have posted several times before on Brother David Steindl Rast, but it's always good to be refreshed with his wisdom,  so here are his words on gratefulness in this stunningly beautiful video which was also part of a TED talk given by Louie Schwartzberg.

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