Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lent; an offering

I mentioned yesterday that I had figured out what my prayer focus for Lent would be, and it's taken quite a lot of that discipline I'm not good at to keep this one down for a couple days.

While reading "Dynamic Catholic" last week I happened upon a passage about "Fostering the Inner Life" and the author made a simple statement.

"The authentic life is compatible with any honest human activity.  All honest work can be transformed into prayer."

I know there's not much to that passage, but it blew me away.  Growing up Protestant as I did prayer was only that stuff you said at Church or while kneeling by your bed.  The idea that the most mundane parts of your life could be a tool for something great, something transformative in yourself is a little mind blowing to me.

I won't lie here.  When we moved back and I chose to leave my artistic career behind the work that was available to me was less than glamorous and I had a hard time reconciling what I do for a living with the time and effort I've spent in school and in developing skills, none of which I use anymore.  However, in Matthew Kelly's words "Who we become is infinitely more important than what we do." and you know what?  He is right.

And so he, with that in mind, suggests this:

"A man's work may be to collect the trash, but if he does it well, and hour by hour turns to God in his heart and says, Father, I offer you this hour of work as a prayer for my neighbor Karen, who is struggling with cancer... or in thanksgiving for my wife and children, then he has truly discovered and is living the words "pray constantly." "

If you were doing your 9-5 job for a great reason would it be easier?  If you're a SAHM would that billionth load of laundry mean more if it could be part of something more?  Would you try harder to do your best knowing that you were offering to give those hours of yourself for someone else?  I know I would, suddenly my work would have a whole new meaning.

For those who don't pray or aren't comfortable with these suggestions I recommend looking at it from the idea of Karma - what goes around comes around.  If you thought, just for a minute, that doing your day to day work a little better, a little hard would balance out a little pain and suffering in the world would you do it?  I bet you would.

So this is what I will be doing until April 7th, everyday I go off to work at 5:30 in the morning I will offer that days work as prayer to a particular person or cause.  I will do my best during those eight hours in hopes that someones pain will ease, that an answer will appear or that a long awaited gift will finally be received.

I encourage you to do the same, whether your job for the day is office work or house work offer it up as a prayer for someone who needs it and see what happens.  Offer your day at a job you'd rather not have up in prayer for that friend who's been job hunting.  Offer the day corralling your children in prayer for the women who still can't get pregnant.  Offer that load of dirty dishes or that meal you're not sure anyone is going to eat up in prayer to those who need food and a home it eat it in.

By making the dull or tedious moments of our day more meaningful we are given a chance to improve ourselves and those around us by just going about our day.  How amazing is that?

So as Lent begins I challenge YOU, whether Lent is actually your celebration or not, whether you "get" religion or not, to challenge yourself until April 7th and see what you can make of yourself and what you can do for others and let's see how different our worlds can be by Spring.

P.S.  It's Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday, which ever you prefer - so go have some crazy pancakes and wear some beads!

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