Granddad Walton was a road-builder. He helped build I-81 and parts of the Skyline Drive. He was a road grader operator. My parents took me one day to visit him at work and actually see him operate that big piece of machinery. After pushing some gravel to grade, he climbed out of the cab, with his Beechnut Chewing Tobacco in his flannel shirt pocket, and with a big grin on his face, handed me a rock. This rock had big specks of glittering gold nuggets in it!
As a young boy, my mind began to race with stories of pirates and treasures and such. I then started thinking about a new bicycle and oh my, the many paths my mind began to race down in a mere matter of seconds were countless!
Granddad let me dream for awhile and then brought me back to earth by telling me that he had just given me a worthless rock, a piece of Fool’s Gold. My dreams of treasure had now deflated like a 7 day old birthday balloon. What seemed to be a priceless treasure had no value!
Now many years later, at times I still let my mind race down paths of my imagination and dream of the “what-ifs”! I waste away my life a couple of minutes each hour imagining about the “if only I had” or “if I only could” thoughts. Still not seeming satisfied with what God has blessed me with and still not focusing on that which truly is priceless! How can I become a seeker of this precious treasure? We look to St. Theophan the Recluse for guidance and he gives us some helpful advice on how to be profitable with our time and our thoughts:
One must ensure that the soul does not only make petition to God when standing in prayer, but during the whole day, as much as possible, one must unceasingly ascend to Him and remain with Him.
In order to begin this task, one must first, during the course of the day, cry out to God more often, even if only with a few words, according to need and the work of the day.
Beginning anything, for example, say “Bless, O Lord!” When you finish something, say, “Glory to Thee, O Lord”, and not only with your lips, but with feeling in your heart.
If passions arise, say, “Save me, O Lord, I am perishing”. If the darkness of disturbing thoughts comes up, cry out: “Lead my soul out of prison”. If dishonest deeds present themselves and sin leads you to them, pray, “Set me, O Lord, in the way”, or “do not give up my feet to stumbling”.
If sin takes hold of you and leads you to despair, cry out with the voice of the publican, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner”.
Do this in every circumstance, or simply say often, “Lord, have mercy”, “Most Holy Theotokos save us”, “Holy Angel, my guardian, protect me”, or other such words.
Say such prayers as often as possible, always making the effort for them comes from your heart, as if squeezed out of it. When we do this, we will frequently ascend to God in our hearts, making frequent petitions and prayers. Such increased frequency will bring about the habit of mental conversation with God.
Glittering things of this world are worthless; they are a fool’s gold! What we should center our life on is the pursuit of the One who gave His life so that we can experience pure love, without omega. Ridding ourselves of all our sin and wanting to be a fool-for-Christ with an eternal value and not settling for the worthless glimmering rocks that this world values!
Glory to Thee, O Lord, Glory to Thee!
Fr. Gabriel Weller