There are nights when my Patient Husband and I spend the time together, but parallel. He’s doing his thing and I’m doing mine. He may be reading while I crochet. He and I may be surfing the web on our separate computers. But we’re in the same room, comfortably together and yet not really talking. But there’s still communication. It’s a good thing.
Not all the time, of course. Over time, communication is the best weapon we have for protecting our marriage. At times, though, being together-yet-quiet is a good thing. It happens sometimes when we’re cooking together, sometimes when we’re at church and he just takes my hand and squeezes it, or sometimes when we’re doing our own thing and he catches my eye across the room.
What if we could do the same with God? It’s not an all-the-time thing, but it occurred to me that Jesus’ injunction to “pray always” might at times mean that you’re doing your thing while God is doing His, and yet you’re together. You’re aware.
I’ve tried this a few times, and I like the feeling. I’m loading the dish washer and I imagine Jesus sitting at the table reading the newspaper. Or I’m folding laundry and imagine Jesus on the couch with a book. (Jesus frequently reads in my imagination.)
For some reason, this feels to me like sanctifying the work I do. It’s not much, and it takes a little practice for me to get into the groove of it (or else I just forget and my mind wanders off into….Ooh! Shiny!)
It’s not difficult to do, is my first thought. And yet I enjoyed it. Clearly this kind of imagining doesn’t take the place of actual prayer, but it does seem to foster a deep silent intimacy with God. If you can imagine God watching you fold your socks, it’s a very different feeling from imagining God entering His password (86 million characters long, in hex) into His email to download your latest prayers. There’s more solidarity. It cuts through the pretense.
Back when I was in college, I used to take my guardian angel out for coffee. I’d go over to McDonald’s after going to the Saturday Mass down the hill, or else after we got back from visiting the nursing home on Sunday. And then I’d get a little table for two (you know, the half-booth. This is McDonald’s we’re talking about, not Chez Expensive) and I’d chatter in his general direction. I’d imagine him sitting in the seat across from me and just talk about this, that or the other thing. Nothing profound. Nothing awe-inspiring. And then when coffee was finished, I’d go home.
It’s hardly Midnight Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, but it was good. And in its own way, it’s something we can all do.
Give it a try. The next time you find yourself facing two baskets of unfolded socks, ask God to join you while you fold them.