Each choice does matter

There is an old story, told by a man named Roberto Assagioli:  In medieval times, the age of the construction of many of the great cathedrals, three men were seen chopping stone and they were asked the question, ‘What are you doing’?  The first said, ‘I am chopping stone’.  The second said, ‘I am working to earn a living for my family’.  The third said, ‘I am building a great cathedral’.  What a magnificent response!  His humble action he could see as part of a great endeavor  –  the creation of a beautiful medieval cathedral with all its grandeur and hugeness. His small efforts were lifted up and looked upon as part of this great undertaking that went far beyond himself, his world and indeed his daily work.   He would never see the completion of that cathedral, yet he could see that he was part of it and that he was, day by day, contributing to it.

So it is in our own lives.  What we do, day by day, contributes to who we are and indeed forms who we are.  So too with our thoughts and feelings.  As time goes by and we slip into familiar patterns of thinking, responding, feeling, so our self is formed.  Who we are is created, day by day, hour by hour, choice by choice.  And this leads to some really important considerations.  We are all aware of the ‘big decisions’ we make in life and how they can be life-changing and set us off in one direction or another, but those seemingly little choices matter too and they have their part to play in the grand scheme of things.  It is in the everydayness of these choices  that their power and effect lie.  And this happens in a number of ways, for good and for bad.   Let’s take the example of telling a lie.  While one lie, and let’s suppose it to be undiscovered, may not harm anyone, it can lead to a change within us.  Having got away with it once, the tendency may be there to do it again, and again.  Perhaps subtly at first, it begins to mould our person and it begins to shape the way we relate to other people.  As we slip into patterns of lying, our hearts harden, our moral compass begins to shift and weaken.  The way we look at others changes.   This is the old ‘slippery-slope’ of course and the change can be insidious, creeping up on us as we make those seemingly little choices each day.  We all meet people from time to time whose default answer to how they are is a negative response.  Day by day their negative perception of their lot in life becomes deeply embedded and before long, that person is seen not just having a negative response on any given day, but as being a negative person.  We need to be like that medieval stone cutter who saw so clearly that each stone he cut contributed to that great cathedral.  No one act, choice, thought, response or reaction defines us, but each one does make us ultimately who we are and who we will become. 

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Ms Kerry McCullough

Dean of Mission