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The sun has been up for quite a while now (8:33 AM) and I’m feeling a hint of what used to be my “regular work schedule.” I would be in an office by now, attending to the work of the week that is beginning. If I think further back, the bell for the first period class would have already rung and we would be on our way to France by now…Those would be the days when I was a teacher of French, of course.

Now life is quite different, especially because of the interruption of the Covid-19 pandemic which has reshaped much of life in the world, especially for people like me whose “work” has become a response to need in the religious congregation of St. Joseph founded in 1650 in France to do “all the works of which women are capable and which benefit the dear neighbor.” (from the Constitution of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet) I never thought much about what that could mean as I moved from high school teaching to parish religious education to diocesan service in the same, to spiritual direction for individuals and groups, to the creation of an entity supporting the work of spiritual growth wherever the need arose. But here I am, waking up each day to a newness, responding to need as I see fit. Today I will spend time on the telephone, listening to and loving at least one person—maybe more—to a realization of how much God loves her, and later ascertaining the value of a certain kind of retreat for a contemplative group in the beautiful state of Vermont.

Days like this call for deep breaths. Actually most days do that now and prayers like those offered by Macrina Wiederkehr in her book, Seven Sacred Pauses, are a necessity throughout the day. Here is one of my favorites:

In you, O God, I live and move and have my being. Morning’s bright beginning has worn away, and I am full of thoughts about the things I must accomplish this day. Remembering how you stole away from the crowd for personal prayer, I take a deep breath. I invited you into the ground of my being. I cannot leave my work right now but I can breathe. Breathe in me anew. I will follow your breath to the depth of my being. I will remember to pause. O Holy One, enter into the sacred space of my life and abide. Amen. (p. 84)