Importance of the mundane
October 10, 2007
Who among us knows from the start whether or not our chosen calling will lead to greatness, be it personal or societal?
Most of us start out small, doing the menial, looking after the mundane. As much as our deepest desires are loaded with hope to do something great in life, we can't know if what we begin, will lead to public significance.
Paul Henderson, the best known of Canadian hockey heroes, scored the winning goal in each of the last three games of the 1972 Canadian/Russian hockey series. The Russians had won the first games (played in Canada!), and it looked as if the Canadians would end up the losers. Unthinkable for Canadians who believe they own the game.
Henderson, a relative hockey unknown at the time, was chosen for the series. In the final and seventh game played in Russia, the game was tied with only 34 seconds remaining. Henderson's goal in those few seconds is considered the greatest moment in hockey history.
Paul confessed that as a boy he practiced writing out his name, expecting that in time he would be asked for his autograph. But never did he expect it to come the way it did.
Of course, most of us live in relative obscurity, grinding out the daily chores of our calling. What we don't know is the potential impact our life and work will have on people and society.
Life lived in Spirit-shaping choices does two things: it lifts the burden of trying to anticipate what has greater potential and causes us to settle into the Jesus-spirit of service. Wanting to be great or achieve greatness is refined, not squashed.
The Jesuit story, including its dark side, is a 450-year listing of people who were unafraid to accept the most daunting of calls. And in so doing, they brought change and influence to the world.
Dear Lord of opportunities, as much as I wish to lead a life of significance, help me in this day, in the tediousness of my calling, know that it is you who evaluates what is worthwhile and significant. In the meantime, give me your wisdom to discern what is important, and courage for what is needful. Amen.
Jesuit heroism is not just a response to a crisis but a consciously chosen approach to life; it is judged not by the scale of the opportunity but by the quality of the response to the opportunity at hand.