Yesterday was the feast of St. Scholastica, (twin, maybe) sister of St. Benedict, my good pal. At Mass the priest gave a brief homily on the contributions of Benedictines over the centuries in the arts, education, etc. Got me thinking about just a few of the things attributed to the Benedictines that have managed to weave a running thread in my life. (there are tons) And as I was trying to muddle through today…well, it just made me laugh. At myself. As usual.
One thing I love about the Benedictine way, is the value placed on hospitality. The guest or traveller is treated as Christ himself. Love that – and it is probably the hallmark of my parents’ home as we were growing up. It would appear that God’s plan for my life at this stage is not that I run a country or corporation, or invent something cool. I’m raising children right now, and God has given me enough of them that it would constitute a full-time job. So I’m here, and as our pastor says, “Your house is kind-of on the way to everywhere.” So this I can do – welcome people to our home as best I can and treat it as a privilege.
(To do this well, it is better if I’m able to answer the door with a smile on my face. To do that, I need to keep up with things around here. Not to museum-like standards, but neat enough. Unexpected guests and the house a disaster? Not pretty. My face, I mean, when I answer the door.)
The other thing that I associate with Benedictines is “age quod agis” – basically “Do what you are doing”. I’m not sure that Benedict said it first, but with his emphasis on work/prayer/a time for everything, I’ve always associated that with him. “Do what you are doing” in the life of a full-time mother is a weighty thing. Do what I am doing? Really? I’ve wiped this counter down 6 times already and the day is only half over. I’m really going to focus on that counter for the millionth time like it is the most important thing in the world? Yikes. When I was a younger mom, that idea depressed me. Big time.
Then I realized I had it wrong. I wasn’t wiping the counter, or wiping the nose. Again. I was creating an orderly, peaceful, calm home where I could welcome people with a smile and where they would feel welcome. I was gently caring for very small, sweet people who could not do very much for themselves. I needed to do what I was doing, only with the realization that what I was doing was so much grander than it would seem. And God was going to hide that grandeur from my eyes now, so I could just focus on serving Him. Humbly. Right here where He placed me.
Today my friend Stacey took Caroline so I could “Do what I am doing”, which is to wade through the financial aid swamp for our soon to be college freshman and sophomore. Talk about depressing. This makes the grossest kitchen counter look like a gin and tonic. 4 separate files of info, with the commensurate number of usernames and passwords, which I cannot ever keep straight at the best of times. I’m at a standstill now, because the missing passwords are going to both boys’ email addresses which I cannot access, and the clock is ticking in my kid-free time.
Did I mention the clock is ticking? The house will soon be full of the kids and a dozen of their closets friends. I look at the computer, make a GGGRRR face and get annoyed. Then I laugh. At myself. As usual. I remember the homily yesterday, and my friend St.Benedict. I remember to do what I am doing. Which is not doggy paddling in financial aid purgatory. Nope. I’m calmly assisting my big boys to leave the nest and attend Wabash College. A great, great place. And I’m trying to ensure that Wabash tuition X 2 doesn’t bankrupt us. So we can afford college for the next 4 kids. So my husband can retire before he’s 80. So we can get re-acquainted again, before we die.
So I laugh. And now as I continue spinning my financial aid wheels, just waiting for those passwords, I’ll tidy the house. I’ll make it weekend and friend ready. And I’ll pray. Maybe my buddies Benedict and Scholastica will make what I am doing, what they are doing.
PS Check out Betty Duffy, who is on something similar today.