March 3, 2009

Today was one of those days you wish you could bottle and keep for the months ahead when the onslaught of heat will be almost unbearable. A bright day, but with lots of high clouds to keep the sun at bay, temps in the low ’80s, and just enough breeze to move the air around.

If the pool wasn’t still 62 degrees it would have been a perfect day for a long, relaxing swim.

The air continues to be thick with the sweet aroma of the fruit trees. It’s not just our lime and lemon trees, but the neighbors’ lemon and grapefruit trees as well. The scent permeates everything to the point where you feel as if you’re walking into a dream-like world. The house is filled with the delicious aroma of sweet citrus. The bees seem pretty happy as well – there are hundreds of them around the trees. From my desk I can see them darting from one flower to another. Lovely.

Tonight I was in the middle of a lengthy e-mail to our India group when I received an e-mail from a fellow project manager announcing he will be taking some time off for a family emergency; seems a brother-in-law who had been terminally ill had taken a final turn and was near death. I asked him for his name so I could include him in my Compline, and he asked me to keep his wife in my prayers as well, as she is angry and full of bitterness over her brother’s situation.

Needless to say, my e-mail all of a sudden seemed quite unimportant in the grand scheme of things, so I folded up the tent for the night.

Deciding to take a soak in the tub, I was reading Henri Nouwen’s “The Genesee Diary” when I came upon an entry of his I remembered well from the first time I read his book more than fifteen years ago. Bemoaning his inability to keep the world outside the monastery from intruding on the “monastic experience” he sought, he quoted from St. Paul in Romans 12:2 – “Do not conform yourself to the standards of the world, but let God transform you inwardly with a complete change of mind.”

Wow, I thought – some things never change. In fact, the more I think about it and compare myself now to how I was back then, feeling my way to a new “change of mind” following my conversion experience, I’m more conformed to the world than I ever was. I work 70 hours a week, fight to squeeze in any kind of life during the work week, including my morning and evening prayers, and use my weekends to catch up on the sleep I’ve lacked during the week. If it weren’t for Saturday Mass at St. Mary Magdalene, my weekends would be a complete veg-out. So St. Paul’s words are not just a chastisement to me, but a condemnation of my life as it is presently constituted. I doubt God is impressed by all the work I’m able to send over to India, or the utilization numbers that help keep senior management happy and our team gainfully employed.

Maybe Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection holds the key. In his fine book “The Practice of the Presence of God” he writes of turning mundane manual work into prayer and a gift to God. So maybe by still being at work tonight when that e-mail from my co-worker came in and being available to assure him I would be praying for his brother-in-law, wife and family, I could offer him some small measure of comfort and give my workday a purpose it otherwise wouldn’t have, thus making it a prayer in its own small way. At least I hope so.

At any rate, this kind of sobering news certainly gives plenty of food for thought and makes these fragrant days seem all the more precious to me.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 23:44 | Comments Off on Fragrant Days
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