I’ve had guests ask what it is like to live here, and it often feels like they are expecting to hear that life here is like living on the Mount of Transfiguration or like being on retreat 24/7. I also wonder how many readers expect each week’s Chronicle to be bursting with exciting news. It might be disappointing for some to learn that our reality is much more mundane and routine.
Each of us has our daily and weekly tasks that vary very little. For Adele, Cecilia, and Sr. Barb who work in the office, answering phone calls and emails, and doing the little things necessary to prepare to welcome groups can be very repetitive tasks. For Kim, the routine includes menu planning, ordering the food, unpacking the order, prepping foods, preparing meals and doing dishes, and these tasks repeat week after week. For Jain and Jackie in Housekeeping, they have a schedule of when to clean bedrooms, stock linens, set up rooms for guests, and clean the public areas like bathrooms, meeting rooms and hallways. JustBob probably has the least routine in his life here because in a building that is 104 years old, you can never predict which wheel will start squeaking when. Still, there is plenty of the mundane in routine maintenance tasks, setting up meeting rooms for guests, grass cutting in summer and snow plowing in winter. For the residents, locking and unlocking doors, carrying the hosting phone, greeting guests and making coffee are part of our routines. Team meetings are regularly on Wednesday mornings to plan for the upcoming week, and regular volunteers come in on regular days to help with regular chores. Not very exciting, is it?
Still, our mission is to provide the atmosphere that will support our guests in their desire to “become more fully human, more deeply connected with God, self, others, and creation.” One would reasonably expect that in order for us to provide that atmosphere, we, too, would be aspiring to “become more fully human, more deeply connected with God, self, others, and creation” ourselves. But how does mopping hallways, cutting grass, or slicing cheese do that?
Perhaps you can relate to the challenge of seeing how your mundane and routine tasks somehow fit into the big picture God is painting. Perhaps we believe that God’s work has to be something very grandiose, something earth-shaking or world-changing., and household chores, yard work, and those routine mundane things we do day in and day out at work don’t quite measure up.
So where does the mundane and routine intersect with that deeper connection we hope to have and hope to foster? For us here at St. Anthony’s, they intersect in the awareness, the mindfulness, that each small, ordinary, mundane, routine thing we do adds to the atmosphere that is St. Anthony’s. It is the awareness, the mindfulness, that each small, ordinary, mundane, routine thing we do is still God’s work. Each of us and each mundane task is like a different color on God’s art palette that somehow God uses to create the simple, peaceful picture that is St. Anthony’s.
We don’t have to know how all the colors and brushstrokes come together. We don’t have to see the finished artwork to trust that as long as God allows us to continue being here, we are part of the picture.
For all the small, ordinary, mundane and routine tasks in our lives, and for the artwork that God is creating from them, we say Deo Gratias!