That’s my thought most every morning as I reluctantly roll out of bed. The cozy, warm bed where I can fly by simply bouncing, visit with dearly departed loved ones, and solve any crisis with the greatest of ease. But my feet hitting the floor brings back reality and sometimes there doesn’t appear to be much to smile or to feel some semblance of accomplishment about. So it begins...
Whisper a morning prayer, make the bed, brush my teeth, shrug at the mirror (not going to worry about that bed head), put on my stay-at-home-Nana 'uniform' of choice (a long knit dress), and pad downstairs.
Then, by rote, the daily routine beckon - AGAIN!
Switch out the two-way light switches (Being OCD make this of utmost importance) and the little levers have to be in the correct position – up=on and down=off) – check.
Straighten all five bar stools at the counter (didn’t I do this right before bed last night?) – check.
Cold coffee in coffee pot (yuck) – check. Wash, rinse and fill with hot water (for my hot tea) – check.
Wash the tiny ‘Whiskies’ (child-speak for whiskers) left behind by Papa off the bathroom sink – check.
Fold Papa’s blanket and put away with his pillow (he ‘naps’ before going to bed) – check.
Fix breakfast for whichever kids are here today – check.
While they’re eating, load the dishwasher and clean out the sink (BTW, why am I the only one capable of rinsing a sink?) – check.
And this is just the first 20 minutes…you get the idea…right?
Sometimes this routine is almost comical – or is that a hysterical laugh escaping from my clenched lips? It never changes – EVER. But other times, when moved to the pity party compartment of the train of life, I mentally shake myself (maybe even plant a well placed mental slap) and realize that all this exactly what it should be.
My vocation, after all, is important – even as it appears mundane. Keeping the home fires burning, so to speak, makes for a stable family life. The kiddies depend on me and so does my loving husband who works unbelievably long hours and sacrifices home time to travel for work. It’s the least I can do. It's also the most important – if done with the proper mindset.
As an old-fashioned kind of gal, my perfect family scenario is husband/father working and wife/mother staying at home with kids – cooking, cleaning, teaching, sewing and nurturing. That’s how my childhood was. It's also how we raised our own family – the first time around. This second time is simply icing on the cake. The blessing of doing it all again is not lost on me - because now my grandchildren are in my care. The life of a stay-at-home-Nana is not so different from the life of a stay-at-home Mama.
As such, the BROTHER LAWRENCE book my own mother gave to each of us siblings comes to mind. The inscription read.
‘Read at least once a year!
“THE PRACTICE OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD” instructs readers that, no matter what your lot in life, no matter how mundane the task place yourself in the Presence of Christ. Do this each and every day – all day! Much like St. Therese’ ‘little way’, this wise monk writes of offering up our daily life to God – all of it. Peeling potatoes? Do it for God as a prayer. Washing the spills off the kitchen floor for the umpteenth time? Do it for God as a prayer.
When you begin to realize that there are two ways to do the same job, you are on your way to utilizing Br. Lawrence’s great advice. The task, after all, must be done. Do it with a frown and your day will be dark…plus, the merit of a job cheerfully done his lost. Do the same task as a gift to Him…reap the reward of a pleasant day AND just perhaps some tangible good that our human brain can comprehend will come of it. If not there are eternal implications. There’s also ‘extra credit’ if you do this without whining about it to anyone later!
It would be disingenuous to say that this goal is accomplished every day. However, it is the ultimate goal. And the benefits are many because, not only is there a sense of having accomplished something great by doing something small, it is an accomplishment to have taught by example instead of by word. As Saint Matthew exhorts, don’t live life like the Pharisees.
“So practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice.” Matthew 23:3
So who’s with me? Let’s resolve to do our best, no matter what the task, and reap the benefit of not only getting the ordinary done, but also of having ‘prayed by action’. Next time you feel like you’re reliving ‘Groundhog Day’ – smile in the mirror and laugh at the absurdity of cleaning scary-looking, unidentified child messes off the floor and having it count as a prayer!