At Home with Jesus
What makes a day good? What makes a day meaningful? This has been on my mind in these days of the virus as we are all at home much more than usual. We are “sheltering in place,” in quarantine in a sense, spending a lot of time in a little bit of space, with our families in our homes. We do a lot of normal things, but they feel magnified in these days of the pandemic as we experience them in one little space with less to distract us.
On our block here in the Bronx, as we sit in our chapel in prayer, I can hear people filling their time at home in different ways. I have definitely heard more power tools than usual. Multiple people have been fixing their cars, and one father even built a little play house for his children. In the convent, my days are spent doing many little things too: spending time with my sisters in prayer and fraternally, answering the door, eating meals, doing dishes, folding laundry, and tending to some of our own house maintenance projects. This has been a surprise gift to me because I have heard God speaking to me more than usual, precisely in these little things. One week, a sister and I were trying to clean a number of our sink drains that had gotten clogged. After a few days and various treatments (my favorite was a homemade Draino of baking soda and vinegar), it worked! As I looked at the sink draining smoothly again, I felt immense satisfaction and joy! I also felt God’s presence right there at the sink. This is how God feels as He desires to heal us when our hearts get “clogged” by the difficulties of life and also longs to wipe out our sins in the sacrament of Confession. That afternoon, I started invoking Our Lord by a new title: “Professional Plumber of the Heart.”
I have felt a similar delight working in our garden, pulling out weeds of all varieties. In the sunshine and wind on various afternoons, we’ve uprooted weed-trees with a shovel, cut and pulled weed-vines from every part of our fence, and used butter knives to remove the weeds growing between our sidewalk cracks. Some days we weed, and some days we plant. It is extremely satisfying, even though there are always more weeds. Again, I heard God speak to me—He doesn’t mind having to weed my interior over and over. He doesn’t mind all of my physical, emotional and spiritual needs. He is the Divine Vinedresser and our Father, and it is His delight to daily tend to these things.
I feel so tempted at times to rush through the little things, trying to get on to “more important things.” However, I had the revelation that my day is much less meaningful if I do this. On the contrary, I go to bed joyful and content if I do these little things for love. How? Well, it’s just a little shift inside: turning to God and thinking of Him, embracing the present moment with joyful surrender. When I put on a mask to go outside, I think of all the nurses and doctors with masks on all day long and start to pray for them. When I feel tired of being quarantined, I think of how Jesus chooses to be in quarantine forever for me in the Eucharist. Little by little the day becomes meaningful when I resist the urge to push through in order to get everything done, and instead do things intentionally, with Jesus and with charity. It has been beautiful to realize anew, amidst this pandemic and “sheltered in place,” that God is always here, even when I least expect it. Yes, He is in the tabernacle most of all, but He is also amidst the gardening, the plumbing, and the sanitizing. He is with us around our dinner table and in our kitchen. “Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.” “Where charity and love are, God is there.”
Sr. Josephine, CFR