“My son, every day work on only as much ground as your body takes up in space lying down, and your work will progress gradually, and you will not lose heart”
When he heard this, the young man acted accordingly, and within a short time the field was cleared and cultivated. Do the same, work step by step and you will not lose heart.
Sayings of the Desert Fathers.
These 4th Century sayings have a lot of wisdom in them for our life today. In this one the young man gets discouraged because the field is hard to plough. He does not have the strength and feels unmotivated, paralysed. He does not know where to start and as a consequence leaves everything just lying around. We are like this when we have to face a difficult or long task, or indeed a difficult person.
The old man gives the best advice. Do not consider the whole field, just do as much ground as you would sleep on in the night. That can be done easily. And so the young man begins, slowly, but soon the whole field gets done.
Each day we can have a mountain of tasks ahead of us. And if we get tired or stressed they seem even greater. The advice is to start at one place and work slowly, not considering the whole of the task. If we look at the whole day and the extent of work to be done, we can get discouraged and make no progress. Just do one thing after another, step by step….we can all do that without being overwhelmed.
It is the same with our inner life. If we get frightened by our faults or difficulties and think that we will never change, we will never get started. We give up on ourselves. It is enough to do a little piece of work each day, such as a short session of meditation, and not concern ourselves with the whole field. This way progress happens, without us even noticing it.