An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Monday, May 12, 2008

Finding God in the Mundane

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.


SuburbanCorrespondent said...

A requirement for staying sane while raising children, isn't it? I think that's why I like babies - they are so fresh from heaven, they remind you that God is in the mundane, as you change diapers, and clean messes, and all.

Lisa said...

Bless you! This is so true, and so good to remember. A priest friend of ours told us once that, in the great scheme of things, the one who remembers to change the toilet paper in the church bathrooms will find more appreciation in heaven and earth than the one who polishes the candlesticks.

Sara said...

That's a lovely post....and a great thought to end the day.

Kathryn said...

I agree, lovely post and I love the pics included!

j.a.varela said...

Very well said Bia.


:o) mg said...

If He were not in the mundane, I'm afraid I'd never get to know Him.

Lisa, I'll bet he never polished candlesticks!! LOL THAT is one job I am glad not to have to do any more.

SuzyQ said...

Bia, I can relate so much to this!
When we can find the sacred in the everyday and the grace in the ordinariness of life it is a special thing.
This post reminds me of the poem Having a Mary heart and a Martha mind.
Many Blessings to you today

Soutenus said...

Wonderful post! I loved your last post, too. I thought it came through loud and clear that you were not complaining but simply, and with a quiet humor, showing the differences in our lives from day to day -- year to year. The joy was evident to me! :-)

GrandmaK said...

Ya know, when you least expect it you end up doing anything but what you had hoped or anticipated. In the end, the "sun" still shines and we cannot help but smile. That happened today at work...I was most disappointed that my plans were not accomplished, but when I look back on this day I feel I really did accomplish the will of God! YEAH! This was a terrific POST. Thank you!!! Cathy

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you! I plan to post your words on my bathroom mirror: "grumpiness and bad attitude are not only exhausting, but hard work."

I especially want to read that bok-"Christy" is among my favorites, so I'm sure I'll love it! :)

Thank you for lifting a tired mom's spirits today!

P.S. I once posted about falling in love with housework on my blog, but I forgot to include God in all of my great ideas--you have inspired me to alter my strategy, and now I bet it will work much better! :)

Anonymous said...

I came over from LaDonna's link on your post, and what a great one!

A couple years ago my husband got his 'dream job' and moved a few weeks ahead of us to begin before we moved the household. I had sent him a care package of things and in I included a new toilet brush with a bow on it. silly, I know...but with a note reminding him to always be willing to be the one to clean toilets and do the grunt work, even if it wasn't his 'job' to do it. It hangs in our closet (unused of course!) where we see it every morning and serves as a reminder to both of us to be the one who is joyfully willing to serve.

Bia said...

mg- I'm with you on that one!

la donna mobile- Have you read Catherine Marshall's book "Julie"? That's another good one.

hthr- Thanks for visiting. Your toilet brush story was better than mine.

E said...

Lovely. It is exhausting being grumpy. Hard to remember when I am in full wallow however.
Thank you for the example you set and the stories you tell....