Friday, August 24, 2012

Weasel words and Brother Lawrence


I have a friend who’s spent many years as a missionary in Africa. She bakes her own bread, and occasionally experiences infestations of grain moths. When these critters find their way into her flour supply, she can’t just dash to the corner grocery, so in order to provide food for her family; she painstakingly removes the moths one by one. Although, she loves God, enjoys where she lives, and is committed to her call to missions, this is a part of the deal that's not very appealing.

For some time now, I’ve been sifting through a three hundred page manuscript plucking out bugs which some call “weasel words.” Among them, just, so, really, only, and that. Words, which often add nothing to the meaning of a sentence, but simply weigh it down. Words, I am sorry to tell you, I apparently love to use in abundance.

 If only I could just tell you how much I really love using words that mean so much to me.

If only.

Important task--this buggy word removal. However, after days of this, my eyes become glassy, and my brain feels like mush.

I want to run.

I want to quit.

 I want to get a job repairing transmissions.

I suppose no matter what the Lord may call us to, there’s always a down side. 

So, how do we face the tedious tasks without bolting?

A few suggestions:
Small Chunks. What works best for me is combining the tedious with the creative. Breaking up the times I spend on unappealing tasks with other more creative endeavors.
Staying balanced. I know in part why I’m out of sorts right now. I haven’t been taking time to exercise as I should. It never pays to skip taking care of yourself. I deceive myself by thinking I’m gaining time. My productivity actually decreases when I don’t do the things I know benefit my overall wellness like eating right, exercise, and social interaction.
Worship. Earlier today in my writing group, we talked about how all of life is worship if we allow it to be. Keeping an attitude of worship makes the ordinary and mundane moments glorious.  

When I think of worship during the ordinary, I think of Brother Lawrence. The account of how this seventeenth century monk lived in adoration of God all the while working in a kitchen touches me deeply. Entitled, The Practice of the Presence of God, it includes Brother Lawrence’s prayer, “Lord of all pots and pans and things…Make me a saint by getting meals and washing up the plates!”

If you haven’t read this Christian classic of conversations with Brother Lawrence, you may read it free on line or down load to kindle here. It’s only around fifty pages, so you could read it less than an hour. But I think the ideal would be to read one conversation and allow some time to meditate on it every day. 

Whether sifting grain moths, or weasel words, God calls us to himself. And I for one aim to borrow a prayer from Brother Lawrence during the rest of my editing:
 “O my God, since thou art with me, and I must now, in obedience to they commands, apply my mind to these outward things, I beseech thee to grant me the grace to continue in thy presence; and to this end do thou prosper me with thy assistance, receive all my works, and posses all my affections.”

Amen.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:23). 

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