Jen at Conversion Diary has a post up with a quote from St. Francis de Sales that I'd never encountered before. Quoting it in full because it deserves it:
Soon we shall be in eternity and then we shall see how insignificant our worldly preoccupations were and how little it mattered whether some things got done or not; however, right now we rush about as if they were all-important. When we were little children how eagerly we used to gather pieces of broken tile, little sticks, and mud with which to build houses and other tiny buildings, and if someone knocked them over, how heartbroken we were and how we cried! But now we understand that these things really didn't amount to much. One day it will be like this for us in heaven when we shall see that some of the things we clung to on earth were only childish attachments.
I'm not suggesting that we shouldn't care about these little games and trifling details of life, for God wants us to practice on them in this world; but I would like to see us not so strained and frantic in our concern about them. Let's play our childish games since we are children; but at the same time, let's not take them too seriously. And if someone wrecks our little houses or projects, let's not get too upset, because when night falls and we have to go indoors -- I'm speaking of our death -- all those little houses will be useless; we shall have to go into our Father's house. Do faithfully all the things you have to do, but be aware that what matters most is your salvation and the fulfillment of that salvation through true devotion.
Isn't that wonderful, realistic, practical writing about detachment? It seems that so many of the saints are urging us to be ethereal and otherworldly, passing through the things of this world like light and with nary a thought about any of the stuff around. Well, thank you St. Francis for recognizing that most of us live in the world, with children and spouses and other people we provide for... we touch the things of this world, and are touched by them.
I think he does a fantastic job putting things in their proper place. "I'm not saying that we shouldn't care... because God wants us to practice on them... Let's play our childish games... but... not take them too seriously." Strikes the perfect note, I think...