[Psst, if you just want the podcast, without all the reading, click here:]
In Rumer Godden’s novel, In This House of Brede, a nun whose talent as a sculptress has become renowned in art circles well beyond the enclosure of her abbey is elected Abbess. A friend and art critic writes to her, “This is absurd. When will you have time for your own work?”
“I have no ‘own work,’” the new Abbess responded, “I do God’s work.”
Perhaps on my twentieth reading of the book, I suddenly understood the depths of what the newly-elected Abbess Hester Cunningham Proctor was relating to her friend, and it is precisely the mindset we must adopt of we wish to stop phoning-it-in and half-assing our way through our lives. Consider the work before you – whether it be dusting, parenting, reading a report, changing a diaper, driving in traffic, visiting an older relative, volunteering, taking out the trash – and then consider that you really do not have any work of your own; all of the world before you is “God’s work”, the task which has been assigned to you in that particular moment.
If we are doing God’s work, we cannot afford to phone it in; you don’t have the luxury of making a half-assed job of it. We will be graded on it. Like punctuation and penmanship, it will count.
— Me, Little Sins Mean a Lot
Wow, I sound so wise there, don’t I? And I know I’m right. I know that internalizing that little bit of advice will change my whole life, re-order what is dis-ordered, rightly orient what is disoriented in me.
Ask me how well I’m doing it in the day-to-day.
Let me be kind to myself, dear reader, and also to you: once in a while, that message comes to the fore, and I have a good moment — productive, authentic, and heaven-worthy.
The rest of the time, and I’m sure this is true for you as well…not so much.
Kathryn Jean Lopez has interviewed author Jared Dees about his book, Praying the Angelus: Find Joy, Peace, and Purpose in Everyday Life. He credits surrendering less than two minutes of his time, three times a day, to changing everything in his life.
That’s a bold claim. Imagine stopping what you’re doing, three times a day, to say this prayer. And we’re all so busy!
We’re all busy…This can lead us to want to own that time and keep it all to ourselves [closed] to the needs of others and of God…[with the Angelus] interruptions…become less burdensome and more welcomed as opportunities to serve.
We are called to make a service of our lives, aren’t we? How inconvenient that is. And if we think of what we’re doing as “service” it all seems so arduous, doesn’t it? For me, remembering the fictional abbess of Brede may be a be a better thought: “I have no ‘own work.'”
All I have is all that God has given me to do of a passing moment, a moment, if only I can keep my head and my focus. But how to keep my head? How to remain focused?
Perhaps praying the Angelus thrice-daily as recommend, rather than “when-I-can-remember-a-few-times-a-week” might be the answer. Dees says it is. Shall we test it?
Let’s try it together! Let’s pray the Angelus three times a day — if not at 6AM, noon, and 6PM as recommended then at set times, with our alarms on to remind us, and see what happens. I’ve created a podcast (and I’ve even included a tinkling bell to call us to prayer) to help out.
As Dees says, the Angelus takes less than two minutes — here it’s 1:43 minutes, including the ring-a-ding — so literally this is less than 5 minutes out of our day! Just click and pray — let’s give it the rest of the month, and then see where we are!