I hope that yesterday's post didn't make it seem as if I was complaining, because I wasn't . . . at least not much. It's just that in the middle of a hectic day of chores, my best friend called to remind me that this time last year we were in Rome. Sigh.
Suddenly, scrubbing the pine pollen off our awnings seemed terribly mundane.
Which is what got me thinking about the book A Man Called Peter by Catherine Marshall (author of Christy and Julie). This book is the true story of her husband, Peter Marshall, who came to this country as a poor, Scottish immigrant and who ultimately became Chaplain of the United States Senate. Peter wrote some truly wonderful sermons, but there is one sermon in particular that I always turn to when faced with the ordinariness of our daily lives.
Peter believed that it was important "to make the distinction between worship and work and play less sharp", and that we should seek God in our kitchen, on the playground, and in our typewriter. He wrote that our lives would have absolutely no meaning if we weren't able to see God in the mundane, day-to-day chores that make up our lives, that sometimes what we need most "is the God of the humdrum . . . the commonplace . . . the everyday."
I especially remembered this sermon when I signed up to work at a summer camp in Savannah, Georgia while in college. I was excited about this job. I enjoyed working with children, and for the first time I would be able to play the guitar during daily mass. But my first few days as a counselor consisted of cleaning the camp to get it ready for the campers . . . a little fact they neglected to mention when I was hired. When I was assigned the task of scrubbing nasty toilets that hadn't been used since the previous summer, I was a bit disgruntled (and that's putting it mildly).
Instead of holding a guitar, I was holding a toilet brush.
After that first day I realized that grumpiness and bad attitude are not only exhausting, but hard work. So the next morning as I faced yet another day of cleaning bathrooms, I remembered Peter Marshall's sermon and decided to try and find God in these dirty, smelly, disgusting camp bathrooms.
So I prayed for the grace to do this job willingly and with a joyful heart. As I prayed, I wandered around the small auditorium next to the bathrooms and found an old record player and one scratchy record: Louis Armstrong singing It's a Wonderful World.
I listened to that record over and over again at full volume. I sang along at full volume. I scrubbed those toilets. And I was happy. . . I had found God in the mundane.