We're surprised that the disciples didn't pray for help when they were out there on the stormy sea, but maybe we're not all that different.
retold by Deborah
In the evening (after Jesus had fed the five thousand) the disciples went down to the shore, climbed into the boat and set sail for Capernaum. It had gotten dark, and Jesus wasn’t back yet.
A fierce wind started to blow and the water got choppy.
When it seemed as if they had been rowing for miles, the disciples saw Jesus walking across the water and getting closer to the boat, and they were terrified.
And he said, “It’s me; don’t be afraid.”
Then they wanted to take him aboard, but at that instant the boat reached the harbor.
Today I want to celebrate Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni. Not only was he an amazing artist and intellectual — that dude could paint ceilings.
That’s a particularly impressive skill to someone who is in the middle of painting a bathroom. (Guess who.)
A bathroom must be the worst place to paint: it’s a closed-in space with lots of corners, fixtures to work around, baseboards, the ubiquitous crown molding — and, of course, the ceiling. As the project continues out I’ve begun singing my own version of an oldie: “Paint drops keep falling on my head…”
We’re in the middle of a heatwave, too, so it is like an oven in there. That means I’m hot and cranky and coated with green paint.
The worst part is the trim: first of all, there is a lot of it; secondly, it requires semi-gloss paint, which is truly nasty stuff. Oh. My. Gosh. It drips when wet and leaves incriminating traces of every brush stroke, every slip of the wrist, when dry. Second coats are of little avail.
My attitude deteriorates, my efforts worsen, frustration increases, my efforts worsen (repeat, endless loop). Things are not going well.
What to do? Pray?
I’m joking, right? Prayer is not going to resolve the problem; all of the Hosannahs in the world will not suddenly turn me into a skillful painter; the completed bathroom ceiling will not be miraculously transformed into a replica of the Sistine chapel. Prayer isn’t going to make one bit of difference.
Or is it?
What if we began our every action with prayer? What if we treated every task as an opportunity to bless and serve God?
Traditionally, those we call the “professed religious” (cloistered monks and nuns) lived and worked in a constant attitude of prayer; every action was done “to the glory of God.” Hoeing weeds was a meditative exercise; baking bread, doing the laundry, mopping the floor, even — dare I say it? — painting the bathroom was treated as a holy exercise; every act, word, and deed was a gift to God.
What if we began thinking of our daily lives in that context: as sacramental actions and ourselves as a holy priesthood? Nothing would be routine; nothing would be insignificant; no task, event, or responsibility would be hateful or despised.
We tend to look for the divine in the dramatic, the rare, the beautiful — but the One who is present in the cool, dew-bedecked sunrise is with us in the scorching noonday heat. The Lover who meets us in the silent redwood grove is also with us in the midst of freeway traffic, tiresome meetings, uncooperative copy machines, and recalcitrant computer programss.
God is with us, in all times and all places. What is missing is our awareness of that fact.
It doesn’t have to be pleasant to be filled with radiant glory; what is holy is not necessarily beautiful, or rare, or perfect. God is in the darkness as fully as the light, in sorrow and in joy, in our struggles as much as our successes.
Does this mean I should be at peace with the drips along the baseboard? Perhaps. Or it may indicate a need to make another effort; an effort embedded inside a prayer: a commitment to do my best, while recognizing that perfection belongs to God alone.
We can — if we are mindful — gain wisdom from all that we do. We can speak and listen, work and play, bless and pray in awareness of our divine calling: remembering that we are a holy priesthood: a community of celebrants praising the Eternal One.
Virtual prayers and real-time blessings,
Imagine a life lived in constant celebration of the glory of God.