Whatever I do

January, 2013

When I was a teenager, helping one of the teaching nuns at the parish middle school with decorating her classroom, I had a challenge. Sister asked me to put up a bulletin board… you know, the old-fashioned kind, where you cut out all the letters, arrange them with a corresponding picture, and tack the message up. You did this about once a month, so that the children would have a new inspiration fairly often.

What were the words? I remember them well. “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  (Colossians 3:17) NIV

My first (silent) reaction was …. So many letters! … Could this verse be any longer? Back then, I was not too familiar with the Pauline letters or I would have known that this was one of the author’s shorter lines. However, it took many hours to shape and cut the letters out of construction paper, put them into envelopes to keep them in order, go back to school, and tack them all on the bulletin board, along with a picture (which I do not remember.) Really, I’m happy I can remember the words.

Recently, I thought of these words when the subject of vocation or calling came up in a class. Some students were claiming that working to save lives was more like a vocation than selling furniture, because it was more “holy.” I did not agree, and said so … very carefully. You see, it does not matter what we do – whether it is lofty and “important” in the sight of the world or society, whether it is dreary and mundane. When a young mother tells you about folding eight loads of laundry because she got behind a little, she’s not just moving around linens. She is doing God’s work. It’s all about the intention, the reasoning, the motivation.

Why do you get up in the morning? Because you can, of course. And also because you want to … You know that there’s something you need to do, whether it will appear in national headlines or simply make life a little more joyful for your family. Whatever you do, if you do it with the  thought that this is where you are meant to be and your work is good. You will be giving thanks to the Cosmos/God/Higher Power – for the moon and the stars, for the grandchildren and your spouse, for your memories and your dreams, for the presence of people in our lives who remind us that “whatever” is more than enough.

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