Sanctifying the Ordinary
I have a small second-hand purple book containing a wrinkled, over-highlighted collection of thoughts and aspirations from St. Josemaría Escrivá, the Spanish priest who founded Opus Dei. The short little sentences seem to always offer beautiful inspiration – the kind that resurfaces in your heart as you go about the busyness of the day. Today I read one that made my eyes well up with tears.
They were tears of remorse for wasted moments of my professional life as a nurse, but ultimately tears of hope for the opportunity that still lies before me.
It’s an opportunity for you as well, regardless of your vocation or job description. It’s an invitation to live like the One whom you love.
St. Josemaría, filled with all the wittiness of a Saint who clearly didn’t hesitate to counter zeal with even more zeal, relayed:
“That big young man wrote to me saying: “my idea is so great that only the sea could contain it.” I answered: “And what about the Tabernacle, which is so ‘small’; and the ‘common’ workshop of Nazareth?” It is in the greatness of ordinary things that He awaits us!” (Furrow, #486)
I don’t think St. Josemaría is condemning magnanimity, as that runs contrary to a lot of his other writings. Afterall, the God who dwells in a small tabernacle and who worked in a humble wood shop is also the God who could not be contained in a tomb, who worked out the salvation of the world through his death and resurrection. That is certainly magnanimous.
However, in this moment, this great Saint reminds me that those small, hidden places of my work are fertile soil, ready for me to cultivate and grow something beautiful for God. When I was working as a hospice nurse, I knew instinctively that my life was filled with these big moments of great love. I remember a moment while performing postmortem care, reflecting on how my work of cleaning this lifeless body was like that of a sacristan who cleans the chalice after the blood of Christ has been emptied. I remember sitting with a patient who had no family or friends, in her last hours, reading John 6 to her and singing “Abide with Me”. I remember supporting families as their parent or spouse was facing their last hours and offering comfort and hope in the Resurrection. I reflect on my years as a nurse and think of those meaningful moments being the crowning glory of my profession – my “big moments” where I really loved. My “resurrection” moments, if you will.
But what about my Nazareth moments? I wasted them! The moments of charting (so, so much charting), driving long distances between patient houses, all the “boring” days when no one was dying and I was mostly just checking vitals and doing routine assessments.
According to St. Josemaría, Jesus was awaiting me in these ordinary moments. What if I had charted promptly and joyfully? What if I had driven long distances with love and truly, deeply listened to how my patients were doing on the “boring” days? Contemplating this quote filled me with remorse for all my missed opportunities. Yet, as I looked over the edge of the book, through my tears I saw my little baby. I was filled with gratitude for the merciful God who offers second chances. My daughter offers me a second chance to love in the little things of my “new professional life” …to change diapers with joy, to stop and tickle her when she crawls over to me, to read her the same book over and over again because she loves it.
What about you? What are your Nazareth moments in your job? Where is your small tabernacle? Where is the ordinary corner of your life – where Jesus is waiting for you to love? Begin searching for these with me, today. Let’s love in the small parts of our lives.
This reflection was written by Mari Price and originally published by Tepeyac Leadership Institute; republished with permission.