Cleaning toilets, the Holy Family, and feet, feet, feet

There are times, when the thought of doing a good deed, or anything at all, is incredibly tiring and unpleasant; when the thought of doing anything and the thought of doing nothing seem equally exhausting. These are tough times, but good news: this is the best time to do good. Being good to be happy is wonderful, but has a selfish element to it, and is too easy. But when we’re suffering, and decide we may as well do something good, it is a good for goodness sake, and as it demands more, it means more.

At these times, we are with Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, and can pray earnestly, and accept the cup God offers us, or fall asleep with sheer grief with the apostles. 


Perhaps most of the good we do/can do, isn’t/won’t be properly appreciated. Keeping up standards won’t earn many thanks, because it is taken for granted, even though others would be horrified if it wasn’t done (emptying bins and cleaning toilets spring to mind). But these works, done in silence, are made pure this way. To continuously serve lowly and quietly, without gratitude but with love, is a way of great holiness. I wonder, how many of the saints (known and unknown) cleaned toilets?

Although it seems almost selfish to not call gratitude to the minds of others. But, we should encourage gratitude to others and to God, and not to ourselves, and firstly by example of gratitude. And when others are more grateful to God for all things, they will be more, and more perfectly, grateful to those God works through also, as seeing the utter graciousness of all existence.

The hidden life of the Holy Family perfectly illustrates this. We have no record of what Jesus, Mary and Joseph were doing for most of their lives, and yet, this was the life of Jesus, the Son of God. God came to the world in the most everyday way possible: Mary gave birth to him. He was covered in that weird, bloody slime, and crying, and couldn’t lift his own head or say a word. He had to be fed, each and every day, over and over again, and couldn’t say thank you, even if he wanted to. Jesus worked quietly (as far as we know) as a simple carpenter for years before he began his ministry. Joseph loved, supported and protected Jesus and Mary, including as refugees in Egypt. The life of the carpenter was also the life of God’s father.

Today (technically yesterday) is the feast of the Queenship of Mary, and what I love, is that God makes her Queen, precisely because she is His lowly handmaid, ready to do everything for God, from the commonplace and everyday, to the miraculous, dangerous, and even sacrificial, for faith in God. Wherever she is, she is there for God.

Of course, Jesus, Mary and Joseph were by no means unexceptional, but they didn’t scorn the lowly works, and were always persistent in faith, hope, and charity, and this prepared them for their more astounding feats. The majority of their lives consisted of the small things of life, that form a humble foundation for the bigger actions.


This said, we must also not lose sight by our service and miss out on the better part like Martha (Lk 10:38-42). She was distracted, caring about many things instead of the one thing, and her care for Jesus’ stomach caused neglect of Jesus himself. We need to learn to stop and sit at his feet, and to wash his feet with our hair and tears, cover them with kisses and anoint them with ointment (Lk 7:38). And we need to let Jesus wash our feet too (Jn 13:8). We should treat Jesus this way in his body, the Church, in his holy sacraments, and in the poor and needy.


God bless you!

Play and work; childhood and adulthood

It’s odd, how as we grow up, we tend to play less and less. When was the last time you had a game of it, or tag, with friends? Why do we “grow out” of such great things?
Even animals play more when they’re young. Puppies chase their tails, and kittens play with string, but cats and dogs have grown out of it. It’s a natural change.
Yet, we do still play. Sports, computer games, card games all survive into adulthood. Why not all the wonderful running games? I think, the change is, that we want the games to increase, and change, and be games upon games. We want long term improvement and therefore training in the game. We want the game to be part of a bigger game, and so we make cups and leagues.

I think society’s negligence of play is partially responsible for many of today’s problems. Amongst playing children, we find equality, friendship, and freedom. We find much the same among sports playing adults (not so much when sport becomes work). And what about the creative industries/businesses where workers are largely just playing around?
My question is, why don’t we play more? If a child will build an entire house out of Lego, why must the real thing be made drudgery? If children happily build their own toys from mechano, why bother with exploitation and the division of labour in foreign workshops? Why do we work, rather than play?
Capitalism [gasp!]. The demand for “efficiency” has long been at work, forcing man to be a part of a grand machine. The system demands quantity, and hates true quality.
Cost pressure drives the minimization of work, in order to minimize wages. But in doing so, it both ruins work for man through the division of labour, that may otherwise have been done as play (or art), and by reducing the demand for workers, increases their dependency on working the same way.
Arguably I should be blaming the consumers for wanting goods which weren’t made for art/play. To an extent maybe.
But more so, I blame the institution of property. Without this, we would be free to play. We wouldn’t be working on another’s property for his gain, and according to another’s desires; it would be ours to take joy in, and manage for ourselves. Even if it wasn’t for the worker’s own final use, it would be their work (play/art), for their own pleasure, even in the aid of their fellow man. We would all be self-employed, and have the joy and hard work of it.

We desire nearly everything we do to be part of ever greater and greater games. Why not?

I also believe the lack of play this is leading to social issues. There comes a point when working and recovering from work are too much, and there is stress, and there is boredom in work, and boredom in recovery, and there is depression. Or the unemployed have nothing to do, as work is taken, and no good play/art is accepted or available, so video game, watch TV, and little more is available; and therefore, feel unproductive and worthless, leading to depression (unemployed people are more likely to commit suicide). One in seven people in Scotland are on anti-depressants, and rates are similar elsewhere, showing how dire the situation is.
Lack of play and art is obviously not the only cause, but no one gets stressed or depressed from over play.

Here are a couple vaguely related scriptures

let all your things be done in love.
1Corinthians 16:14

Perhaps I should have defined play earlier. I consider it an act of love. I believe it’s largely with God, as it enjoys creation, but also about sharing with humans.

‘verily I say to you, whoever may not receive the reign of God, as a child—he may not enter into it’
Mark 10:15

Accept the reign with joy and humility, like children. If this reign is among us, let us all be like children.

I often feel like we grow into fools. Childhood made more sense. But I also feel, that the important part of childhood never does grow up or disappear; it’s just not listened to as much.

God bless you.