Doing the ordinary things right

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We like to think –  going into work this day – that we might get the opportunity to do something profound and meaningful that will change lives and impact upon policy. Or that we will change people in ways that will bring them closer to our point of view and values. And maybe we will. However, in the meanwhile, we will get lots of ordinary opportunities – to be kind or to listen –  small things which we can overlook, but if we do with love, can have a real impact upon persons.

 [Thomas Merton]  once met a Zen novice who had just finished his first year in the monastery. Merton asked the novice what he had learned during the course of the novitiate, half expecting to hear about encounters with enlightenment, discoveries of the spirit, perhaps even altered states of consciousness.  But the novice replied that during his first year in the contemplative life he had simply learned to open and close doors.

“Learned to open and close doors” Merton loved the answer and often retold the story, for it exemplified for him “play” at its very best – doing the ordinary while being absorbed in it  intensely and utterly.

Haase, A., Living the Lord’s Prayer: The Way of the Disciple

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