Category Archives: No Time

I Resolve Not to Shout Like a Fish Monger

OK. This time I have fallen off the band wagon. Since early in Lent, I’ve failed to sit still with God regularly. Twice, actually. I parked my backside on a red chair and settled into contemplative prayer twice.

Here’s what happened: On February 25, the Senior Search Committee at Colonial Church in Edina, Minnesota, decided to recommend Daniel for Senior Minister. But not right away. First they needed to inform their Council, which wouldn’t meet again for two weeks. Then Daniel and I told the people who should hear the news directly from us. Finally we flew to Minnesota for a long weekend, during which the church voted officially to call (church-speak for “hire”) Daniel as their next Senior Minister.

I spent all of March packing half our belongings into storage and staging the house to sell it. We cleaned. We painted. We cleaned. I sorted, sold, and donated. I cleaned some more. I stole time from my husband and my child to pack. I cleaned. I went to bed most nights after midnight. And did I mention that the house has entered a state of cleanliness unmatched by my soul?

On April 1, we put the house on the market and have kept it museum pristine for open-houses and showings since then. (Anybody want to buy a condo?) We traveled to Edina. I looked at 175 houses on the web, viewed 18 of those in person with the realtor, and took Daniel back to six of them. Violet and I caught the two-month-hacking-cough-cold and ceased to sleep through the night. We returned to Boston and said our good-byes during the last three weeks of April. I bought a new vacuum.

About a week into March, I realized that my New Year’s resolution to pray contemplatively every day had devolved into the spiritual hope that I would not shout like a fish monger’s wife. “OK,” I thought, “it’s reasonable that I do not have the luxury of time to pray in stillness. There is a season for everything (Eccl 3:1). Perhaps this is my season for the prayer of action?”

Following what Thérèse of Lisieux called the “Little Way,” this is what I tried to do in lieu of contemplation:

1. As I passed through each day, I yielded to God the tasks that I did and the reactions that I felt.

2. I offered him both my desire to respond unselfishly and my actual responses.

3. I lifted up my actions as prayer. If I vacuumed vigorously, then I let the vigor be my prayer and the Hoover be my tongue. (The Hoover blew up. How’s that for a spiritual sign?)

4. I yielded to God by trying not to fight with my husband and not to become impatient with my daughter.

5. When I forgot and hollered like a haddock-hawker, I asked forgiveness and tried to let my failure go, remembering that I, too, am a toddler in need of the Father to pick me up.

6. Sometimes at the end of the day, Daniel and I would read the daily office of Scripture and prayer together. But that, too, was less frequent than our usual habit.

How well did I claim cleaning as prayer? . . . Well, did I mention the vacuum fiasco and my daily resolve to not shout like a pike-pusher?

The reader who is free of similar experience is welcome to cast the first stone (John 8:7). (That was a subtle joke on the title of this blog. Please don’t really throw stones at me.) Or return with me. Today is a new day and a new month. “Come to Jesus, all you who clean constantly and are heavy laden, and he will give you rest (Matt 11:28–30).”