Giving God everyday tasks by living in the moment Print
Everyday Faith
Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017 -- 12:00 AM

Everyday Faith column by Julianne Nornberg

What does sitting down and playing the preschool game Hungry Hungry Hippos have to do with your spiritual life? Living in the moment and keeping the presence of God, if you are the parent of young children.

That's what I figured out one day while considering the laundry piling up, all the cleanouts and projects I had put on hold due to Christmas preparations, a growing pile of dishes in the sink, floors and carpets that needed cleaning, plus impending chores of offering homework help after school and policing and transporting children to basketball practice.

In addition, I was just feeling a bit down after all the hub-bub of the holidays.

The excitement of preparing for Christmas and New Year's Eve and house guests was over and I was back to my humdrum life of usual tasks and new worries I'd gained after having visited with far-flung relatives and friends.

And yet, in spite of this, I sat down with my son and played Hungry Hungry Hippos.

His clear laughter reminded me of God's presence through it all -- all the heartache, the worry, the toil, the drudgery, and the sameness of daily life.

Enjoying children

In the face of it all, the very best way for me to live in the moment and be present to my four-year-old, was to simply get down at his level and play his new favorite game.

"Enjoy your children at whatever stage they are in," my very wise and gentle mother has always told me, "for it doesn't last long and soon they are grown." If you enjoy them, if you love them through even the most difficult stages -- just as our Father loves us through our own doubts and sins -- then everything will fall into place. God comes to us in the tiny moments of life, the seemingly insignificant ones of mundane life.

It is in our daily routines -- our daily "yeses" to God that require patience and setting things aside and sacrifice and putting others before ourselves -- that we find God.

God is always with us

Yes, He is right there behind the eyes of our toddlers, our innocent seven-year-olds, our teenagers. Yes, He is there behind the oft-uttered memories of our elderly parents. God with us. Emmanuel.

Even after the holidays, and especially the spiritual letdown of commercialism, He is still with us. He is the only Real Presence among us, we with our false gods of materialism. God is the only Real thing we will truly experience. Because that is who He has made us to be: in His image and likeness and with a hole in our hearts, made only to be filled by Him.

So yes, I will sit with my little one today, with my piles of chores up to my ears. Because this is who God wants me to be today: a mother to my little one, a mother who will play and just be in the midst of chaos.

Loving God in the moment

This is my love song to God today, my tiny spiritual triumph, my little offering -- to live in the moment He has given me in my vocation as a parent and a child of God. To live in the moment, to keep the presence of God, always and in the face of unwieldly worldly worries, is to be a child of God.

Let us live in the moment, not worrying about the future, for God in His unending mercy will take care of us, His children.

Jesus promises this in Matthew 6:26: "Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?"

So, can I really connect Hungry Hungry Hippos with eternity? Yes. Today, yes. As I offer up my everyday vocation of motherhood in the face of eternity, with a joyful heart I jump into the game with my son, knowing that this is what God calls me to be today: a mother, a playmate, simultaneously a daughter of God, who offers up her daily routines and her unfinished projects and her whole messy life, as a joyful sacrifice to God the creator who is -- simply and eternally -- Love.

Keeping God in hearts

We can connect our daily actions with the eternal -- if we keep the presence of God in our hearts.

It is a matter of praying for grace and mindfully keeping to the forefront the idea that everything we do in our vocation is for Christ.

"Now this is precisely the essence of a vocation: it makes a person realize the necessity of his existence, that is, discover that he is necessary to others, and answers a vital need," said theologian and historian Cardinal Jean Daniélou (Magnificat, December 2016). "True happiness of life . . . consists in having found one's rightful place, the place that God wants, no matter what that place might be."

"Help us to remember that all our actions are for you," we pray each night with the children. It is something we strive to remember amid our mundane daily routines. For if we can give to God the mundane, then little by little we can give to Him our all, our lives, our love, which is what He gave -- and continues to give -- to us.

Julianne Nornberg, mother of four young children, is a member of St. John the Baptist Parish, Waunakee.