Humbling Labor

MONDAY, JUNE 11, 2012

Recently I have been put in charge of a new project at Benedict Inn. The administrator has commissioned me to clean the art room, the chapel, the snack room and other areas, along with a small team of other women from the monastery. While I appreciate being given a project to head-up, I have to be honest, too; I was initially frustrated with the thought of taking a morning out of my time to clean. What am I learning from this? Is there where my skills are to be used? Isn’t this someone else’s job? were all thoughts that ran through my head (though I may not be too proud of them now.)

After a period of internally grumbling about having to wipe down cabinets and vacuum under shelves, I has a moment of understanding in chapel. One of the sisters read a reflection at noon prayer about Jesus & his labor. Through some divine intervention, my thoughts immediately went to Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. This was an act of cleansing, of cleaning off the physical dirt from human feet. Jesus, the Christ, humbled himself to wipe down the smelly, filthy feet of his friends without complaining or asking why he should have to do it. This moment of understanding was humbling for me. If God could do that, then I can surely help dust a few rooms. After all, it is part of my job to look after the guests at Benedict Inn, and keeping the facilities neat & tidy is part of this.

So, while I don’t necessarily relish wiping down cabinets, I have looked for the positives in the experience. For one, I got to work with a team of great women: one who is part of the community, one who is entering in September, and one with a huge heart and an interest in monastic life. The hard work of these women, the way that they eagerly approached our tasks with such care, has inspired me to recall my own commitment to service.

Now, when I pray each morning for understanding, patience and skill before beginning my work, I may recall this experience to further shape my labor.

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