Once upon a time, there were two carpenters; framers to be precise. Each day they would arrive at the building site to pound nails and erect walls. The first, a glum man, was asked what he was doing. “I hammer nails,” he replied, looking sour. “Every day, hammer nails and more nails. Day in, day out, hammering nails. I hammer nails, I get paid.” His was a monochrome life.
The second carpenter was asked the same question. His eyes were alive as he drove each nail and erected the wall and put it in place. “I’m building a hospital!” he exclaimed. “In this hospital, people of our town will have access to the latest medical care.”
The seemingly mundane, repetitive activities of the day to day can drone us to sleep to the reality of the work and the presence of God in each task and moment. It is so easy to become focused on the single event or action and lose sight of its importance in the BIG picture. For example, in our home laundry seems to appear mysteriously. Even at those moments when I breathe a sigh of relief as the last load is taken from the dryer, I often discover yet another load or two to be done. It’s not rocket science or saving humanity from a plague or calamity. It’s open the lid, start the machine, add the detergent and the clothes, close the lid and wait to put them in the dryer. Repeat.
However, in this seemingly never ending process there is meaning in it as well. Just as significant as building a hospital or a space shuttle it is a gift of love to a small community of love - my family. In doing the laundry I am taking care of a task which needs to be done and one which contributes to the well-being of my family. It is part of a collaborative effort that we as a family to build a healthy micro-community. A community where the youngest to the oldest is valued, and honored in their contribution (big or small) to making our family function for love's sake.
This not only happens within our homes but in our places of employment. Can we see that even the most repetitive task, when done as an act of love, can contribute to the mission of our “company community”? This will provide jobs and homes for our fellow employees, and products and services to help others in their day to day life (Let's not forget that in doing that job we are helping to provide for our families as well). More so, if we can see the significance of each task as an opportunity to demonstrate genuine selfless love in our workplaces, they become like nails in the studs of the walls of the Kingdom of God here on earth.
This is not without spiritual significance. In learning to love one another, sharing with one another and serving one another, we are becoming a living proclamation of the Kingdom of God. We become people who choose love over being self-centredness, and this in itself demonstrates “the manifold wisdom of God being made known through the church (read family, community) to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 3:10. They will know you are my followers because you love one another! (John 13:35)
Living a spirituality of “everyday life” is working and parenting with a focus on the big picture. If we can see the cleaning up, the laundry, the “parent taxi service”, the time for being family, and so on, as the nails in the studs which will build the Hospital, it is easy to have a spirituality of “everyday life”. Everything done in love, for love makes the most mundane intimately sacred.
None of this will make any real sense to us unless we learn to see Jesus present with us in even the most mundane tasks and situations. Ask the Father for the grace to experience His love in whatever situation seems most dry to you. Ask for the grace to see Him in the every moment of every day, in your home, workplace and the related tasks of each. Then be aware, watch and see what God does while remembering that every task we do for love’s sake is another nail in the walls which will build the Kingdom of God, another step towards “your Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven!”