Today I had a thought. A complete thought. And that’s a good thing amidst a million distractions.
Here’s to the mundane.
Here’s to the stuff of earth and all the little things we do — the unspectacular, unexciting needs met for love of God, and love of others. For God notices what we do, even when we forget He is there.
St Therese of Lisieux got it right when she said, “Without love, deeds, even the most brilliant, count as nothing.” Therese’s wisdom points to the beauty of the little way.
Every day, I need to pray in the morning: what is God’s will for me now? That’s where my peace is.
Some days there might be brilliant deeds, but honestly, for me, most of them are pretty ordinary.
So here’s to the mundane. Because that’s where He wants me right now.
Here’s to the everyday and to the myriad of things we might do that never get noticed by anyone other than God. They matter.
God’s plan for my life these past few months included countless things that I would not have chosen for myself. Yet God very much intended these activities and places to be on my calendar. Since late spring, I’ve been absorbed in a whirlwind of tending to others’ needs. God has kept me busy.
I have not had a lot of time to write because I have not had time to process it all. It has been much more important to just live it, not chronicle it… staying present to the people I’m with and the tasks I’m given. I sometimes think I place an unrealistic expectation on myself to constantly write about things. Not to mention I’m tempted by the alluring social media zeitgeist of our plugged-in culture beckoning me to come and play and escape for a while. But, for now, I’m not answering.
Yet I wouldn’t be honest if I did not confess that I struggled with acquiring that virtue.
I went through a withdrawal of sorts regarding my unplugged status. For the first few weeks of this shift, I was constantly feeling guilty that I was not producing new material for my writing career… a daily mental nagging that my slow disappearance from my online platforms was hurting my career’s visibility and viability.
The withdrawal period came to a halt when I remembered Who is in charge of everything, from my day’s agenda to my life’s work. My expectations are not his. My ways are not his ways. This became the basis for my relearning how to tune out my own perfectionistic expectations and continue to trust in God’s plan for me. My expectations usually always become worse by media noise — the digital megaphone yelling at me reminding me what I’m supposedly missing every day.
His will equals my peace. It plots the path for my knowing which way to choose, and what to pack and what to leave behind.
So, here’s to the mundane, to living the hidden life that is oh so necessary.
Hiddenness is an essential quality of the spiritual life. Solitude, silence, ordinary tasks, being with people without great agendas, sleeping, eating, working, playing … all of that without being different from others, that is the life that Jesus lived and the life he asks us to live. It is in hiddenness that we, like Jesus, can increase “in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and with people” (Luke 2:51). It is in hiddenness that we can find a true intimacy with God and a true love for people.
Even during his active ministry, Jesus continued to return to hidden places to be alone with God. If we don’t have a hidden life with God, our public life for God cannot bear fruit.
-Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey, 1995-
Here’s to the routine earthiness that grounds ordinary life — the roll of the day, the humdrum of what needs to be done. And honing a mature vision to see and act.
Here’s to finding a whispered sense of the sacred in every day… to knowing God is with us wherever we are, whatever we do.
Here’s to trusting God is found in every single person we’re with. Honestly, some days I have had to work harder to see that. But my faith acknowledges it, and right thinking does indeed lead to right action, most of the time.
Here’s to being in the moment with someone who needs me, to being about My Father’s business, to His will, not mine.
Of late, I’ve been caregiving in a variety of ways. I’ve been visiting the sick, clothing the naked, wiping the dirty, feeding the hungry, tackling the moldy and the dusty, driving to the hospital, the nursing home, the physical therapy appointment, and back again. I’ve been smiling at the next step taken with a walker, the graduation to solid food, the progress of wounds closing, and the dosage of pain meds lowering.
It is rather mundane and simple. Routines have to keep going, for the sake of others. I’ve been picking up after others, and tending to the dressing, the laundering, and the meal prep. It has reminded me of my years of hands-on motherhood, but to those I’ve been tending, I am no mother. I’ve been caring for parents who have been dealing with a longterm health crisis and a very slow recovery. Then my husband was unexpectedly sidelined with a back ailment. Then, in the midst of that, over the last six weeks, three of my friends have buried their fathers.
Some days the only good I think I can do is in prayer. But besides the prayer, there is a spiritual motherhood that I’m being called to – that of lifting up the lowly and the depressed, and making the things I serve taste good even if I can’t make the people eating them feel good. It is standing by and staying awake and in between, I’m providing friendship, nurture, coffee, and yes, adult beverages.
I’ve had to do things that I have no taste for either – like reading up on medical issues, prescription dosages, geriatrics, Medicare, financial planning, and wills.
I’ve been conversing, cheering, cajoling, joking, arguing, admonishing, strategizing, and soothing. I’ve been praying, crying, grieving. I’ve been shooting the breeze and swearing a bit too much. I’ve not been getting enough sleep. Yet my fatigue is no excuse for the many times I’ve tripped headlong into the sinful gulch that runs deep alongside the river of my would-be sanctity. I’m not the most patient person. But I’m trying to remember all the times when I was the patient and others were caring for me.
Still, here’s to the mundane.
There is simply holy work that must be done. It is the caring for a family and home, for the sick and for the dying.
The corporal and spiritual works of mercy never really make headlines but they make the world go round. We’d be loveless and lost without them.
When doubting our effectiveness, some days all we can do is offer it all up. It still counts before a Father who sees all and knows all. My stay-at-home-Mom years taught me a valuable lesson when serving… I call it not keeping score. There is a time and a season for everything under heaven. (Eccl. 3:1.)
Today love means tending to the ones most needy and the work most pressing. Right now, that means not much writing for me. There have been a few short respites. I’m watching the calendar pages change. My presence is all that is required for now. Soon there will be time to pick up the things I’ve laid aside temporarily.
Here’s to the mundane.
Here’s to today. God made it. He sees it, knows it and loves it. Everything He makes is good.
Do not be anxious, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.
Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.
-Matthew 6: 31-34 rsv-
3 comments on “Here’s to the mundane, the ordinary, and the works of mercy we cannot live without.”
And hugs. Because there can never be too many hugs.
Hugs are always appreciated!
“Mundane”? Not at all. More like quietly heroic. After reading your post yesterday, the mail arrived, bringing a card from the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, with a quotation from St. Rose of Lima, whose feast day is August 23rd. I think it was meant for you, Pat, at just this time:
“Our Lord and Savior lifted up His voice and said with incomparable majesty: ‘Let all know that grace comes after tribulation. Let them know that without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the heights of grace. Let them know that the gifts of grace increase as the struggles increase.'”
And today, the feast of St Maximilian Kolbe, the reading from 2 Cor. 1:3-5 reminds us to praise “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God. For as Christ’s sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow.”
Thank you, Pat, for taking the time to encourage all of us in the midst of the trials you are bearing with your family and friends.
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