Posts Tagged ‘boring

28
Jan
20

Glorious Grind

Baby spinach“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.”            1 Corinthians 10:31, NRSV

The other night we had some people over for dinner. Joan decided a big spinach salad would be the perfect accompaniment for the main dish she was preparing. She gave me the job of rinsing the spinach leaves and pulling all the stems off.

Because Lord knows, you can’t have a proper spinach salad with a bunch of stemmy spinach leaves, right?

And so, being the jolly team player I am, I set about my task… whistling as I worked.

Did I mention it was a BIG bag of baby spinach… with lots and lots of individual pieces of spinach in it… and that each spinach leaf had a stem attached to it?

Soon enough, my whistling stopped. The pile of un-destemmed spinach looked larger than it did when I started. The de-stemmed pile seemed impossibly small.

It was one of those repetitive, mindless jobs that I have never been a big fan of. It was fun having Joan there beside me doing her part of the dinner prep (her job, incidentally, was preparing the dressing and all of the other ingredients for the spinach salad… a job that involved skill and creativity). So at least I was able to divert my attention from the drudgery of the moment with some light, engaging banter with my wife.

But still…

That moment took me back to a couple of jobs I held a long time ago that involved a heavy dose of monotonous, repetitive work.

Mind you, these were not jobs that lasted only as long as it took to de-stem a 12-ounce bag of baby spinach.

These were jobs that lasted a whole lot longer.

One of those involved working for our next-door neighbor as a 12-year old kid. Miss Williams had some prize rose gardens back behind the house and my job was to go through each plant and pick off any aphids I could find.

For that mind-numbing work, I made the princely sum of 35 cents an hour. After three hours of aphid-picking, I had a solid DOLLAR in my pocket… with no taxes withheld. (Sorry, IRS!)

Later, when I was older, I worked in the factory of a company that manufactured hydraulic and pneumatic valves. For eight hours a day, five days a week, I put little rubber O-rings onto the end of the pistons inside the valves. O-rings – as I’m sure you know – keep the air or fluid from leaking into the piston.

I have to confess that I mostly hated those jobs. Every day I dreaded showing up and could not wait for the end of my workday. As soon as I found something else, I was out of there!

It was not until much later that I realized a couple of things about those jobs. First, I realized that for some people ANY job – even a monotonous job – is a godsend. It is the means to providing food and shelter for them or for their family. That job provides a place where they can contribute to the world and stay gainfully occupied. The job I whine about just might be a lifesaver for someone else.

My second realization was that almost EVERY endeavor includes a grinding, monotonous, mindless component at some stage. A brilliant concert pianist has had to spend hours and hours in tedious, repetitive practice. A gifted NFL quarterback (like, oh, for example, PATRICK MAHOMES) has had to throw thousands of balls on a practice field, away from the bright lights, every day, on his own. The charismatic, gifted preacher has sweated bullets over multiple drafts of that sermon and thrown away more pages than she has kept.

It all makes me think of Brother Lawrence. Brother Lawrence was a 13thcentury Christian monastic. For his entire life as a monk, Brother Lawrence worked in the monastery kitchen, cooking for the other monks and cleaning up their dirty dishes. He had no time to sit in quiet contemplation of heavenly realities, listening for the voice of God. There was always the next meal to prepare.

And yet, somehow, Brother Lawrence found holiness there in the kitchen. Here is the prayer that is attributed to him:

Lord of all pots and pans and things,
since I’ve no time to be a great saint
by doing lovely things,
or watching late with Thee,
or dreaming in the dawnlight,
or storming heaven’s gates,
make me a saint by getting meals,
and washing up the plates.
Warm all the kitchen with Thy Love,
and light it with Thy peace;
forgive me all my worrying,
and make my grumbling cease.
Thou who didst love to give men food,
in room, or by the sea,
accept the service that I do,
I do it unto Thee.

Amen

Yeah… but did he ever have to de-stem a whole bag of baby spinach?

28
Mar
19

Call it good

My wife and I just returned from a wonderful trip with friends.

We traveled to the state of Arizona with several different objectives in mind.

First, we desperately wanted to escape the icy grip of winter that has seemingly decided to make a permanent home here.

We also wanted to see a few spring training baseball games of our beloved Kansas City Royals.

The final objective of the trip was to see some of God’s finest handiwork in places like Sedona, the Painted Desert, and the Grand Canyon.

Done, done, and done! As a little extra icing on the cake, the Royals won ALL of the games they played while we were there.

Now, as we busy ourselves with unpacking, laundry, and stopped mail retrieval (SO much junk!! So little joy!), I must confess to feeling a bit of a letdown.

Yes, I know that is a normal reaction when you finally DO something you have planned and looked forward to for months and months.

But if I am being honest, I am also feeling a little “environmental letdown,” if I may coin that phrase.

By that I mean I am coming from an environment filled with sights like this:

Grand Canyon 1

… and returning to an environment filled with sights like this:

Kansas boring

In my labeling system, I give one of these names like, “good,” or “beautiful,” or, “awe-inspiring.”

The other I just call “home.”

But then if I pause and recall some of my study of scripture, I am reminded that my labeling system often bears very little resemblance to God’slabeling system.

The documentation is right there in black and white… in Genesis 1:31. It says, “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.”

God saw the (seeds of) the Grand Canyon and called it “very good.”

God also saw the flat-as-a-pancake wheat fields of Kansas and called it, “very good.”

God saw the red rock spires surrounding Sedona and called them, “very good.”

God also saw the wheat fields west of Salina, Kansas and called them, “very good.”

Hmmmm. Clearly, God and I have differing understandings of the concept of “good” and “very good.”

So I wonder… is it possible that God looks beyond the surface-level aesthetic pleasingness of something to decide whether to call it good or not?

Is it also possible that God’s definition of the word “good” includes an understanding of the necessity of a thing… that God also understands how that something plays a vital role in the overall scheme of things?

And finally, is it possible that God also applies that same “goodness criteria” to PEOPLE and not just LANDSCAPES?

I not only think so… I know so.

God created you… stepped back and looked at his creation… and said, “THAT is very good.”

And if God has called you “very good,” who am I (or you) to argue?

Today I pray that you will remember to look down regularly and see the nametag God has already pinned on your shirt and live into it fully.

 

Abundant blessings;




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