True Greatness

My husband has often referred to a book entitled, Don’t Get Perconel with a Chicken. This book was a compilation of children’s writings complete with misspellings. One topic included was True Greatness. A child wrote that true greatness was a woman who could still smell the flowers though she lived next to a pig farm.

Recently I’ve thought about true greatness, too. I’ve been pondering three vignettes.

Recently I phoned a friend whose poor health has kept her housebound and limited for years. I asked, “What is the best part of your life currently?” She replied, “My living room window.” She spoke with enthusiasm of watching the squirrels and enjoying the view of the golf course across the street.

Her response reminded me of my Aunt Dutie, also in limiting circumstances. Aunt Dutie once told me she had had the most wonderful day. My interest was piqued. Had she won the lottery? Picnicked on the beach with Tom Cruise? Awaked to find seventy surplus pounds had mysteriously vanished during the night? No. She had felt strong enough to walk to the nearby Farmer’s Market and had returned with the most glorious red pepper.

The third example is my son’s aging beagle. Rocky eats the same kibble, morning and evening, year after year. I’m certain Julia Child’s name isn’t on the bag. The brown lumps have a questionable smell—and Rocky loves them. He dances euphorically and gazes adoringly and expectantly at anyone manning the scoop.

I’m thinking that our circumstance has less to do with our joy and contentment than we usually think. Paul’s words to Timothy point the way to true greatness: “But godliness with contentment is great gain…” (I Timothy 6:6). There is something  both rapturous and settling in discovering that what God gives is enough. In fact, more than enough; it is great gain.

I want to grow in the graces of contentment and joy. The apostle Peter ends his second letter this way: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Growing in grace means growing in vigor and experience of the grace bestowed in Christ. The Lord calls me to deeper experiences of contentment, love, patience, trust, joy. I need to keep growing to smell the flowers through the pig and to enjoy great gain.

Live the mystery.


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