by Annemarie Paulin-Campbell
The holiday season in South Africa is finally over. Most children go back to school this week and work places are getting back to their usual capacity. It can be a difficult adjustment to get back into “ordinary” life with its usual routines and stresses. Many of us also have a deep sense of helplessness in relation to the political, social and economic challenges we face, which year after year, seem to become more intractable.
In stepping back into the daily routine of our lives it can be helpful to look from the perspective of our faith. If we see our work not as just a job to earn money to survive, but as an opportunity for working in partnership with God, it can change how we see things, and renew a deeper sense of joy and commitment. Similarly with studies or work in the home.
Imagine that you are personally invited by the person you most admire (living or dead) to work in partnership with them on a critical project. Invited perhaps by a Nelson Mandela, a Mother Teresa, a Thuli Madonsela – or whichever person comes to mind for you as a great leader. Imagine the thrill of receiving an invitation to work alongside them. The invitation says that the work will be hard at times, but that if you are willing to work alongside them you will share in the joy of its fulfilment.
That is exactly the invitation of Christ to each one of us. At this particular moment in the unfolding of the divine plan Christ is asking for your help, for your gifts – is asking me to work in partnership with him. We cannot see the whole picture of how things will unfold, but each moment lived with the intention of responding to that invitation, is profoundly meaningful. The quality of our presence to the people we meet at work, and beyond, and the intention with which we carry out seemingly small and sometimes routine tasks are more important than we may know in this life-time.
The word “mission” means to be sent. Each of us is sent by God to live the values of Christ. We are invited daily to take up our mission again, deliberately asking that God will use us in the ordinary, everyday events and encounters that we experience. It can be helpful to begin each day asking: “Christ help me to work in partnership with you today.” And at the end of the day to look back and see whether I have recognised that deeper mission in the ordinary activities and encounters that took place.
Consolingly, in all the mess of our society and our world, God is at work, bringing about the renewal of everything. And so we can take heart that as the 14th century mystic Julian of Norwich said “all will be well in the end.” Or, as the hotel manager in the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel puts it: “Everything will be alright in the end and if it isn’t alright, it’s not yet the end.”