I used to get so frustrated at all the small, routine bits of work I must do just to maintain existence—cleaning, cooking, sorting/filing, and so on. But one day it occurred to me that maintenance must be pretty important, even in the spiritual view, because it is so woven into existence. We can’t avoid it; in fact, if we neglect maintenance, we are prevented from doing other things well. Unless we choose a very austere lifestyle that involves few possessions, no permanent household, and limited social commitments, we will deal with maintenance until we die.
Jesus spent a lot of time talking to people who spent most of their days just surviving. They cultivated crops or raised animals. They had to feed their children and maintain safe living conditions. In fact, until fairly recent history, most human beings spent most of their time simply maintaining (and, truthfully, most of the world’s population today is still in that position). I find it hard to imagine Jesus disapproving of all the hours folks were out working in their fields or repairing their houses or preparing meals. Jesus’ only warning had to do with too much concern over food and clothing; he urged people to resist anxiety over such things.
So, probably I can trim some maintenance time by getting rid of clutter and guarding against too heavy a schedule. But overall, I can reverence the daily work because it does matter. In the Christian tradition (and others), high value is placed on mindfulness, on being present to, and appreciative of, whatever is in front of me right now. This mindfulness can extend to doing the dishes and paying bills. It can extend to physical exercise and to checking the nine-year-old’s homework.
How do you find meaning in the maintenance of daily life?
Thanks Vinita. Mindfulness is vital in family, community, society, and all around us. Mindfulness can add life to the lifespan of Planet Earth, our Common Home.
Venita, I always look forward to your perspective on living the ordinary life experience. Life has become so repetitive in my daily life, with taking care of my new home, husband’s daily needs and try to keep my spiritual life alive and well. So realizing that the everyday work is essential and part of God’s plan makes the everyday not only possible but the main part of His plan for us now. Thank you for your encouragement in this journey. Love, Anne Burke (Cornerstone of New Jersey)
As I read the heading, the first thought was working/ doing the maintenance on my relationship with God.
Thank you for another thought provoking article
Vinita, such an important reminder that within the mundane event of daily life there is a flowing stream of divine love. I am reminded of so many of the great saints did the same work day in and day out and they allowed themselves to be drawn close the hidden life of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Here is a short prayer I say each day as I prepare to go about all the things I need to do. “Good Jesus bless my work this day with your hand guiding my hand in all that I do.”
Thanks Vinita! You always manage to provide food for thought. Managing clutter both in tangible and intangible ways is excellent advice. Blessings!
Thank you, Vinita, for this much needed reminder of the value–even nobility–of our daily maintenance work. You have helped me remember that my attitude is the crucial factor in whether I act as though I’m living in drudgery or blessing, I don’t always enjoy that recognition because it demands I quit moaning and lean into life as it is. If I resist, I’m stuck in misery. If I give myself to what’s in front of me I open up to the joys therein. Your gem of a homily helped me remember all that, and my day has taken a 180.
Thank you. Such a good reminder of our Lord’s presence in all that I do no matter how simple, routine or uninteresting it might be. He is always looking upon me in love. I am invited to respond also in love and praise of God and love of others.
Blessings for the New Year!
The article for today was a perfect reminder for me that all my “puttin’ around” is necessary work that I am grateful to do (and physically and mentally able to do). There are not “many hands to make light work” but I can use my hands many time to get a big job done or do little jobs many times to avoid things building into a big one. Work in gratitude. I don’t HAVE to do something; I GET to.