Michelle Francl-Donnay has wise words about the importance of doing the basic things well.
“You have to love the daily working,” suggested choreographer Merce Cunningham. He was talking about what it took to be a dancer — not a teacher, researcher, writer, mother or contemplative, or in my case, all those things tangled into a single day. He meant you have to enjoy being crammed into a studio taking class with forty other students, that you have to delight in the doing of the hundred-thousandth plie. You have to be willing to lovingly and gratefully return to the basics each and every day, even — and perhaps most particularly — in the midst of chaos, or you cannot dance.
Ignatius takes pains to remind those making the Exercises to keep returning to the basics, to pay as careful attention in the second week to the methods set out for prayer as in the first. He urges his brother Jesuits to hold onto the daily examen as fundamental to their spiritual practice, no matter what other disciplines they must pitch overboard to accommodate their work. He leads us to know in the end all we can offer — our liberty, our memory, our will — and all we might receive — love and grace, sufficient and more for the work at hand.