I have many inner struggles around the work I do. Some of the things I have been asked to do in mission required long hours. Sometimes I have gotten angry about the amount of work expected of me; other times I know I could give more but am holding back. On the one hand, I feel like I need to always be available; on the other hand, I can use work as an escape. I look at others working more, working less, and in both cases I feel guilty. I want what I do to flow from who I am, and the integration — when it happens — feels wonderful! How complicated is the human heart!
Reflecting on my own experience, over the past months I have identified three guides that help me in unraveling the motivations of my heart; to connect my “doing” with my “being” so that my work flows not from workaholism but from something deeper.
The end of the liturgical year, the anything-but-quiet waiting weeks of Advent filled with the tug between the contemplative and commercial, the awesome birth of Christ in hearts anew on Christmas night, the first day of the brand new year and the World Day of Peace. . . . There has always been something almost magical about the turn of the year. Children with their excited hope for what Christmas morn will bring and cloistered nuns with their contemplative immersion in the mystery of all Christmas is — and everyone in between — are swept up by something fresh and exciting and innocent in these weeks.
I’ve been thinking about how much we need this gift particularly at this time, this year. Our hearts have been so beaten and tainted by the mainstreaming of aggressive and violent language. It has infiltrated our hearts and minds through social and news media on our computers and television screens. Then like an unwanted blot of dark ink it has soaked into our conversations and relationships and thoughts and desires and dreams….
How can I keep a deep spiritual sensitivity of mind and heart so that I live as a citizen of heaven while yet on this Earth? (Philippians 3:20) The ancient practice of cleansing our thoughts holds a key. This is how I’ve started practicing this watchfulness in these end-of-year weeks.