Finding God's presence in everyday work

There’s a conspiracy underfoot when it comes to housework.

I’ve noticed how the dust motes sneak up on me and hurl themselves at the dresser right after I’ve finished dusting. As for the bathroom sink, I’m fairly certain it’s in cahoots with the mirror, since they both refuse to stay shiny for more than a day.

It’s the same with the car. Every so often, I go on a tear and wash our old jalopy. And then, the moment I’m done, I invariably spot a mockingbird strategically perched on a limb right above the car. A second later, wham! The car is decorated with droppings.

So many hours of our lives are spent in these humble, repetitive tasks. We cook a lovely meal and it’s eaten in minutes. We empty the dishwasher and then immediately refill it. We scrub the floor and then Rover ambles in with muddy paws. And out comes the mop again.

How often we lament that we lack time for more important things because we’re on a treadmill of working, shopping and cooking. Sometimes it seems we don’t even have time to pray.

Here’s the good news: God can be found in the humdrum activities of life. There’s a wonderful book about just this discovery called “The Practice of the Presence of God.”

There, Brother Lawrence, a 17th century monk, relates how he felt close to God every moment. Even when he was peeling carrots, dicing potatoes and stirring soup in the monastery kitchen. His secret is simply this: He did everything out of love for God. This means saying to God as you’re vacuuming the floor: “Lord, I offer you this work as my prayer for today.” And Brother Lawrence assures us that we needn’t speak very loudly. After all, he says, God is “nearer to us than we are aware of.”

It’s easy to believe that God is reserved only for special times at church or for bedtime prayers. The rest of the day we may tend to ignore him, as if he had somehow disappeared from our lives. But no matter what work we do all day -- whether it’s planting petunias, teaching teenagers or selling shoes -- we can include him in it.

It doesn’t take special talent to connect with God as we do our daily work. We simply have to turn our hearts to him each moment. We can ask his blessing on the memo we’re writing for the boss. Or the cake we’re baking for a friend.

And we can also ask him to help us keep our sense of humor. Especially when the mockingbird makes a direct hit on that freshly polished car.

Lorraine's latest books are "The Abbess of Andalusia," a spiritual biography of Flannery O'Connor, and "Death in the Choir," a mystery set in Decatur. Her e-mail address is lorrainevmurray@yahoo.com