Yesterday, I told you about my struggles with the tension between my eternal nature that wants to focus on transcendent things, and my carnal nature that wants things like regular meals, and a comfortable bed. And perhaps because of original sin, that second voice is a lot louder and harder to ignore than the first one.
Like I said, the main reason I started this blog was to talk about this very dilemma – how to not lose sight of Heaven, while also making sure that my kids are fed and everyone has clean underwear.
I have a feeling there’s not going to be a satisfying moment of “Eureka! I have now solved this problem and found the perfect balance of time and activities. I will never be plagued by this frustration again!” That would be so great, wouldn’t it?
Still, as I was writing yesterday’s post, I got the first glimmer of an answer as to the general approach to the problem. And, sadly, it’s not some profound, arcane revelation that’s going to rock our world.
In fact, if you were raised Catholic, it’s something both you and I have heard a million times from our parents and others ever since we were first able to say, “I want that and I can’t have it.”
Say it with me now: “Offer it up!”
It’s not about finding the perfect balance of spiritual versus mundane activities. It’s about realizing that, in fact, there is no separation between spiritual and mundane activities. It’s about our focus, our attitude. In particular, it’s about an attitude of service – of serving Jesus by serving those around us.
There’s a book I haven’t read yet, because I think the title says it all. It’s called The Corporal Works of Mommy (and Daddy Too!) by Greg and Lisa Popcak. The thesis of it is that the various mundane tasks we do everyday, the same boring drudge work of cooking, cleaning, laundry, in fact fall under the category of corporal works of mercy – but only if we (here we go again) offer them up as acts of loving service to our family. Instead of being a distraction from our spiritual life, they can actually be the very means of bringing us and our families closer to God.
(Funny side note: I first heard about this book on a podcast where the authors were talking about it, and I kept hearing the title as The Corporal Works of Mommy and Daddy II, as in this is the second edition or volume of the book, and I thought it was pretty obnoxious of them to keep repeating the II. Twasn't till afterward that I realized the real title.)
So, if we deliberately offer up each boring task, or frustrating encounter of our days to God, then those acts become prayers, and we get closer to St. Paul’s instruction to “pray without ceasing.”
Of course, the real trick will be putting this into practice, right? I know I don’t have the answer to that one, but maybe you and I together can up with some strategies that help us better manage it each day.