Seeds of Every Ordinary Moment
Dan Walsh (CVV16) absolutely loved his time at St. Francis Center during his CVV year. He holds Masters’ degrees in Social Work and Public Administration, and currently serves as program director for Nonprofit Association of the Midlands, helping nonprofits help their communities in Nebraska and Iowa.
We just celebrated Christmas – God is with us. This is one of my favorite times of the liturgical calendar, because of the invitation to prepare for the coming of Christ into our world and then to live Christ’s presence. This idea of preparing has been especially important to my current point of life, as my wife, Krissy, and I prepare for the coming of our first child. While we dream about what how to be good parents, what kind of person our child will become, and pray that we do a good job, we also must do some hands-on preparation. Rearranging the household, repainting walls, planning for maternity/paternity leave, and figuring out our childcare situation are just a few of the items on our checklist as we get ready for this BIG change headed our way.
The theme of ‘getting ready’ was prevalent in my time with CVV as well. Preparing myself to receive the God’s presence in everyday life – both at my assignment with St. Francis Center and in our CVV community – was aided by weekly reflection groups, challenged by guests at St. Francis Center, and strengthened through intentional community life.
As I became more prepared during my time with CVV, I began to realize God’s presence all around me, through all God’s creation (although, I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes ‘fall asleep’ and miss his presence in everyday life). Nowadays, I’m finding it easier to prepare for those profound moments where God’s presence is obvious, like the upcoming birth of our child. Other times, I feel like Elijah looking for God in loud earthquakes or brilliant fires, only to find God in a still, small voice. I might have a checklist to get ready for a BIG life-changing events, but can I also make one to prepare for God’s presence in the still, small moments?
When I reflect back, I invested a lot of energy preparing to be a companion on the journey with guests at St. Francis Center, but I began to realize how companionship within our CVV community was equally important and how it can reveal God’s presence through the challenges and joys we experienced. That challenge to receive God in the extraordinary AND ordinary moments continues with me today, and requires continual spiritual cultivation.
As Krissy and I excitedly await our baby, this gift that the wind carries towards our lives very soon, we prepare through prayer, work, and relationship. Do I prepare myself for the coming of God’s presence at every moment of my life with this same care and concern? Another question I might ask myself is: Will I be as joyful to receive this gift when our baby smiles and laughs as when I’m changing her diapers? If you want to be prepared, you sometimes have to get your hands dirty!
In one of my favorite Thomas Merton quotes, he writes: “Every moment and every event of every person’s life on earth plants something in their soul. For just as the wind carries thousands of winged seeds, so each moment brings with it germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of people. Most of these unnumbered seeds perish and are lost, because people are not prepared to receive them: for such seeds as these cannot spring up anywhere except in the good soil of freedom, spontaneity and love.”
I try to pray every day for that ‘good soil of freedom, spontaneity and love.’ It helps to put my daily work in context – it can be tempting to feel disconnected from the poor and marginalized when I’m working with nonprofit organizations rather than directly with the populations they serve or when I don’t have the structured community activities I had at CVV. But when I step back and take the long view, I can prepare to receive the germs of spiritual vitality: I can be a companion on the journey by helping nonprofits have the organizational capacity to work towards achieving their missions, I can be a disciple of Christ by being a good husband to Krissy (and empty the dishwasher at least 50% of the time!), and I can form new intentional communities by staying connected to alums of similar volunteer programs in my own community. The good soil awaits cultivation. I am called to do the work.