August 30, 2012

We had a staff development day at work this week, for which we had several speakers attempt to inform or entertain us.  Sometimes it was hard to tell the difference.  The theme of the day seemed to be stress – a condition we experience a surprising amount, considering we work in a public library.  Aren’t libraries supposed to be oasis of calm and quiet?  If you believe that to be the case, you haven’t visited a busy library in the last decade or so.  We are hives of activity, my friends!  Hives, whether the apian or librarian, buzz with activity and noise – both of which are sources of stress.
Catherine Doherty with the statue of
Our Lady of Combermere at Madonna House

One of our guest speakers for the day is a yoga instructor and something else to do with holistic health. The terminology she used was very much of that sphere (a lot of talk about being ‘your best self’ and “spirituality” as “that which brings you in touch with your true self”) And yet, even in the midst of that well-intentioned though not-quite-enough talk, was Truth.  She didn’t recognize what she was sharing with us as a shadow of Catholic spirituality, but anyone familiar with Madonna House, the Carmelites, Opus Dei... nearly any Catholic saint, in fact, would have no difficulty in recognizing her approach to life:

Don’t consider whether you like a task or job.  It just is. Find something enjoyable in it. Recognize the value of it. Just do the task before you – the duty of the moment. Find a way to make it easier for you to do it – such as a towel under your knees when scrubbing the tub. It matters how we do these tasks, these duties of the moment.

(I added “the duty of the moment” and “these duties of the moment” in the notes I made as she spoke)

I think everyone of us has mundane tasks that must be dealt with each day; struggles from time to time with feeling insignificant; feels reluctant to perform a necessary job.  Take away the option of not doing the dreaded thing (scrubbing the bathtub), look for something positive in it (my tub will sparkle), and make it easier for yourself to get it done (kneel on a folded towel so it’s not so uncomfortable).

Accept whatever it is that you are able to do in that moment – provided you have given it your best.   What more could you have done after that?  Hopefully, if we approach each moment like this, we’ll be able to maintain a level of recollection, of peace, which in turn will make more moments like this possible.

Not bad for a yoga instructor, no? I think she would get on well with Catherine Doherty or The Little Flower.

Click here to read about the Little Mandate of Madonna House.


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