“See everything. Overlook a great deal. Correct a little.”
-Pope John XXIII
I do not know much about the soon-to-be canonized Pope John XXIII, but the above quotation has been one of my favorites ever since encountering it a few years ago.
It lends itself to all corners of life. So often, I think our very human inclination is to feel the need to address problems with radical change. If something is not working, best to throw it out and rebuild or take on something new.
What the Good Pope’s reminder indicates to me, however, is that we can meddle in a way that is ultimately counterproductive. What needs to be fixed is often only a minor detail.
Yesterday I was speaking with a Jesuit priest who needs to light a candle and face a window for his prayer to have any chance at carrying some significance. He has a few ideas as to why this is the case, but he is ultimately resigned to this simply being the way it is. It was a discovery he made on a day when, for whatever reason, he was not looking out a window during his prayer. A small shift later, and his meditation had regained its vigor.
I have similarly begun to experiment with my prayer – where and how I sit or whether I am sitting at all; the time of day I pray; where I place my hands; what noise I allow around me, etc. These may seem like superfluous details, and in some cases, they might be just that. But sometimes, the little corrections are the ones that count.