One of the lessons I learned as an amateur photographer years ago is “Less is More.” The more material in a photograph decreases its impact and the converse holds true. Too much in a photograph causes the eye and mind to wander making it difficult to focus on the most important item. So it is with life, especially the Spiritual Life.
St. Thomas’ Aquinas, one of the most profound scholars in all Christendom, wrote 38 treatises, three thousand articles (comprising 5 volumes of 3,000 pages—light evening reading, right?). The work is unfinished. After celebrating Eucharist on St. Nicholas Day (December 6, 1273), Aquinas never wrote another word, as he said to his secretary, “All I have written seems as so much straw.”
This is not to say that study of the scriptures and writings are not important, less we would be ignorant in our spiritual life and would be the worse for it. What Thomas did realize is that there are no words that can describe the glory and wonder of God.
Another spiritual gem in our tradition is Teresa of Avila, a Carmelite Nun of the 15th Century. She wrote three volumes of her spiritual experiences received in her inner life of contemplative prayer: The Book of Her Life, The Way of Perfection and The Interior Castle. Teresa’s rich inner life translated into a powerful influence of those she touched personally and through her writings.
So you may be asking: What does all the above have to do with me?
Less is more. With the whirlwind of all the temptations that seek to sweep us up into the to focus on the biggest, best, fastest, etc. etc., Jesus is telling us to look at a mustard seed.
After her death, a bookmark written by Teresa which summarized her life experience, was found inside of her prayer book. This today is known as Teresa’s Bookmark. On Teresa’s Bookmark is a prayer of seven phrases that Teresa recited to herself. I find it interesting that the number seven in Judaeo-Christian life means “wholeness” or “completion.”
I am offering this prayer to you for your own edification. I am making a card of it for my own prayer book. I would think it would be helpful to recite it slowly, several times, allowing their truths to touch the places in our life where we might be struggling.
Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing upset you.
God alone is unchanging.
With patience all things are possible.
Whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone is enough.
Less is more.
Enjoy the prayer.
P.S. By the way, which photo of the Walking Stick makes more of an impression? The one above, or the one below?
Less is more. We can focus on God the same way in our prayers by simplicity and silence.