A little; often; over a long time

Dear Minster and Friends,

Recently I have been reading the book ‘A Tree Grows in Brooklyn’ for my book club. It is the story of a girl named Francie, living with poverty at the beginning of the 20th century. In the story, Francie’s mother seeks the advice from her mother when she first gives birth to Francie, she wonders how she can work to make life different for her daughter. The grandmother’s advice is fascinating:

“Before you die, you must own a bit of land – maybe with a house on it that your child or your children inherit.”

“How can we ever get to own land? Johnny and I work and we earn so little.”

“You must take an empty condensed milk can and wash it well….make a slit in the top. Then nail the can….in the darkest corner of your closet. Each day put five cents in it. In three years there will be a small fortune, fifty dollars. Take the money and buy a lot in the country.”

“Five cents a day. It seems a little. But where is it to come from? We haven’t enough now and with another mouth to feed…”

“You must do thus: You go to the green grocer’s and ask how much are carrots the bunch. The man will say three cents. Then look about until you see another bunch, not so fresh, not so large. You will say: May I have this damaged bunch for two cents? Speak strongly and it shall be yours for two cents. That is a saved penny that you put in the star bank. It is winter, say. You bought a bushel of coal for twenty-five cents. It is cold. You would start a fire in the stove. But wait! Wait one hour more. Suffer the cold for an hour. Put a shawl around you. Say, I am cold because I am saving to buy land. That hour will save you three cent’s worth of coal. That is three cents for the bank. When you are alone at night, do not light the lamp. Sit in the darkness and dream awhile. Reckon out how much oil you saved and put its value in pennies in the bank. The money will grow. Someday there will be fifty dollars and somewhere on this long island is a piece of land that you may buy for that money.”

As I read the grandmother’s advice it made me think of Jesus’ words “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-20) and it made me ponder the following questions;

What would it take for me to suffer a little in order to gain more?

What does making little, but often, spiritual deposits look like here on earth?

Simon and I have adopted a little saying for this year, “a little, often, over a long time.” The truth is that little deposits on a regular basis over a long time have an accumulative affect. For example spending even five minutes reading the bible and praying, on a regular basis, over the rest of our lives will accumulate into a wealth of spiritual depth and treasure. But the thing is that we will only determine ourselves to make those deposits if we have a vision for why we are making them.

The above story illustrates the powerful truth that human beings can endure great hardship and demonstrate great discipline when they have a clear vision of what their suffering and daily discipline will produce in them and for them. In the case of Francie’s mother, the vision was of owning a place for her children to call home; for me as a follower of Jesus, it is the hope that when I reach my eternal home I will hear those wonderful words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21)

So do consider making some spiritual deposits over the course of this year, whether it be committing to joining in with our encounter prayer evenings (the next one on Friday 23rd April) or joining in on the Minster School of Discipleship. It might be thinking about ways you can serve others or be more intentional in your faith journey – think about the question: What am I prepared to give up and take up in order to reap the rewards in eternity? 

With much love,


The Minster School of Discipleship begins on Monday 19th February with the topic – Why Grace?
If you would like to have your name put on the list for this then please do email [email protected] 

Categories: Rector's Blog