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Lesson in Patience and Humility from Brother Lawrence

June 18, 2013

We have been involved in animal rescue for many years. Sometimes we have as many as 20 dogs at our farm. Last week it was rainy so I had 12 of the dogs in the house. Well needless to say there were many potty accidents during the day. I went through many rolls of paper towels. By the afternoon I was frustrated and started to get angry at the huge number of dogs that were leaving me piles to clean up. All of the sudden I started to smile as I remembered teaching about Brother Lawrence when I was studying at Emory University.

Brother Lawrence was a very homely monk who hundreds of years ago had one of the most difficult jobs in the monastery. Brother Lawrence lived in the hot kitchen where the large pots cooked in the fire. Food would burn to the bottom of the old pots and was extremely difficult to clean off. Most people would have had a bad attitude if they were sentenced to live in a hot kitchen cleaning the pans their entire life. Brother Lawrence was always joyful, giggling and happy as he spent his life in the bottom of these pans.

When asked how he could be so happy with such an awful job, he answered, “it is a blessing to clean the burnt food out of the bottom of these old pots. Each movement of my hands removes more sediment covering their bottom. I live in joy as I wipe each stroke in the expectancy of seeing the shining clean bottom of the pan. When I look into the reflection at the bottom of the pan I see the face of Christ and feel so loved. My job is important and holy.”

Brother Lawrence visited me as I wiped up the dog urine off the floor. I felt I also was dong a reverent holy job. These foster dogs are going to loving homes and it is an act of service, love and humility to clean up after them as they visit our farm for this transitional time in their life. So, when you are feeling overwhelmed and under-appreciated — remember to think of the big picture and turn that moment around to gratefulness.

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