September 10

The war horse is a vain hope for victory, and by its great might it cannot save. Truly the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love.  Psalm 33:17-18

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5

Tightrope walkers have a secret. They focus on a distant object when crossing; they do not look down at their feet. It helps them keep their balance and focus on the end result, getting to the other side. We are like tight rope walkers, we should focusing on the end result, Jesus, and not looking down, looking at all the distractions in the world, looking for other ways to feel fulfilled and whole. We get distracted easily, at least I do.

But life can be distracting to all us. Work is demanding our attention, the house needs a new roof, and the kids are starting school. We feel pulled in many directions. All of us have distractions. How are we supposed to not be distracted? Come on Jesus, some one has got to put a meal on the table. Someone has to shop and clean. Someone has to cut the grass and do the laundry. There are so many things to be done. Don’t these things have to get done?

Nicholas Herman, a simple man who lived in the 17th century. A kind biographer would say he was not a man of learning; in fact, he wasn’t very good at anything he tried. Then in 1666 at the age of 18, Nicholas Herman underwent a conversion experience. He was walking on a winter day when he saw the bare limbs of a tree standing out against a world shrouded in snow. He knew with certainty that in a matter of months, the tree would once again sprout leaves, then flowers and fruit. The certainty of that little resurrection had a profound affect on the teenager. He knew that God was faithful and could be counted on in all things. 

He joined a monastery, the Discalced Carmelites, discalced meaning that they wore no shoes. These guys were monk’s monks. They put him in the kitchen and named him Brother Lawrence. He did get to go to chapel to pray, but he didn’t study or copy scripture. Brother Lawrence went back to the kitchen and for years he slaved in the kitchen, and this became his prayer,“Lord of all pots and pans and things make me a saint by getting meals and washing up the plates.”

Lawrence decided that there was something in the work of pots and pans. There might be something in being a servant to his fellow monks. Lawrence came to realize that God was present in the kitchen all the time. Yes, he could go to chapel and God would be present, but he did not have to go to the chapel to be with God. Right there in his kitchen, Lawrence became so aware of God’s presence that the distractions proved to be less of a distraction and then no distraction at all.

Lawrence found a way to center on God’s presence; he was centered on God in a whirlwind of activity that could easily have pulled him away from God’s presence. It was in the turmoil that he knew God is present. While cleaning pots and pans God is present. In the midst of distractions, I can say, “God is here.” I don’t have to be pulled away or dragged away by distractions. I don’t even have to always pull myself away for a time of prayer to clear my head and re-center my thoughts. I can get centered on God in the midst of chaos if I make myself aware that God is there, right there, right then.

“Work is hard. Distractions are plentiful. And time is short.” Adam Hochschild

Father, whenever I long for victory or glory, remind me that you are my treasure, my peace, my hope, more than life itself – more than I could want or imagine. Grant that in being a part of your plan to bless the world you love, I may receive the wholeness I seek. Amen.


Susan Hanson