I’m in a pretty busy stretch of the year right now. In addition to my full time teaching ministry, and my writing, I’m out many nights leading retreats and classes at various parishes and centers. I’ve taken to refer to it as, “Hell month” – and, yes, I do get the irony there.
But of course, it’s really not so bad. In fact, I get such joy and energy out of the work that I do that I often feel I am being lifted up by the good will of the people with whom I work and, behind it all, by the Holy Spirit.
Which got me thinking – how hard must it be for people who have no choice but to work two or maybe even three jobs to make ends meet, doing really difficult work that does not feed their souls? And that led me to recall a time, when I was just out of college and driving across the country.
I travelled as far as western New York State before my car broke down and I needed to be towed to a gas station. The driver who came to my rescue was a friendly man, though obviously very tired. We got to talking as he drove me to the station – he seemed to really want to talk- and he told me that he had been working 36 hours straight. As this was all happening late in the evening I gathered that this towing gig bridged the gap between quitting time at his day job and the time he had to report for work the next morning. When he slept was not clear.
The reason? Just another man trying to provide for a wife and children in difficult economic times. (This all happened in the early 80s, just at a point when the economy was coming out of a recession if I remember correctly.)
So as I work my way through Hell Month I’m going to pray for that man and his family, and for the millions like him among the working poor who are simply trying to make ends meet. And when I start to feel sorry for myself, I’m hoping that such recollections will remind me about how good and blessed a life I really have.
Jim Philipps (3rd millenium pilgrim)
(At 7:30, on every Wednesday in Lent, Pat Leonard and I will be leading a retreat entitled “The Sacred Journey to Wholeness” at St. Thomas Moore parish in Happauge,NY. Please come by to pray with us if you are in the area.)