“But the LORD was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound” 1 Kings 19: 12

Greatness is not in the big, the loud, the flashy that is meant to grab one’s attention and please the senses. True greatness is discovered in the smallness of holiness when the devout soul has learned to let the Holy Spirit extinguish all raging fires of pride and self-centeredness. True greatness is practiced in common deeds done in the transforming light of unconditional love, a love that cannot be achieved through an act of the will, but rather is prepared for and received with devotion.

The world prefers that which is immediate, which requires nothing but minimal attention. In contrast, the tiny whispering sound of the Holy Spirit must be sought, must be desired, and requires everything. While one can enter into a movie with little effort, the seducing stillness of the Holy Spirit must be given nothing short of one’s complete self. Without such total abandonment, the soul will never enter into the stillness of contemplation.

Giving everything is both a sacrifice and not a sacrifice. It is a sacrifice in that it involves painful purgations and a willingness to forget the sweetness of created things. A heart attached to the comforts of this world will never dare to take this journey into the heart because such a heart is not willing to suffer. However, it is not a sacrifice in that the heart that has dared such a journey soon discovers that nothing short of God truly satisfies. The sober intoxication of the Spirit far exceeds anything the world has to offer, and once one has found such a heart exclaims, “Your love is better than wine” (Song of Songs 1:2).

The stillness of hearts that have learned to dwell with God is a sweet odor. After such souls have left our presence, the quiet of their words and their expressions proclaims Jesus Christ in ways that few in this world truly appreciate. The odor of their sanctity lingers like a pleasant odor and stays with us for a lifetime.