Friday, March 4, 2016

Firing On All Cylinders

We’ve had three Rottweilers over the years.  Great dogs, great big dogs; but one particular fault between them.  They all had stomach issues; and you knew this quite distinctly from the telltale silent fog.  Invisible.  Sometimes silent, but deadly.  It was much like the apocalyptic angel of death that washed over the sorry souls during the Exodus.  Only we usually weren’t prepared with our “loin’s girt”.  We would be blissfully reclining on the couch, the dogs resting comfortably at our feet and wham, the green, stifling pestilence would be upon us and it was every man for himself as basic survival instincts kicked in and we ran for the safety of fresh oxygen.

Firing on all cylinders. 

Those words came to me as I was working around the house the other day.  While I know the expression is meant for top automotive engine performance, I tend to apply it to other things- from stinky dogs to my spiritual life.  To me, firing on all cylinders is an idyllic idiom that sometimes happens in my own spirituality, a sort of union with God when my focus is all on Him during the most routine of activities.  For instance- dragging the hulking dead weight of dirty laundry downstairs, and as I am putting it into the washing machine again I am filled with thoughts of how grateful I am that I have a washing machine.  I have clean water and can afford the detergent and clothes.  Gratitude grace descends and prayer rises up to God that I am healthy and I can do this mundane chore without help; and I offer it all up.  I place this gratitude, this little sacrifice into the Heart of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament with all my love.    

Then I think of the Blessed Mother and her life in Nazareth, and all the household chores she did.  I join with her pure heart and earnestly offer a “Hail Mary” and when I am firing on all cylinders I pray that prayer continually throughout my day.  As my always swirling brain flits between a worry over the news headlines to my children, I pray that persistent “Hail Mary…”  When a particular person I know pops into my mind from nowhere, I really believe it is a prompting to pray for them.  We are all connected, and I unite my heart to the Blessed Sacrament and pray on their behalf, on my own behalf, “Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me a sinner”.           

Ordinary living.  And when I sometimes cooperate with the grace God is trying to heap on me, I fire on all cylinders and live an ordinary holiness.  For the vast majority of us, Heaven is not reached through monumentally heroic feats like starting a new religious order or burning at the stake for our God.  We do the small things well: taking out the garbage with a prayer for those who have nothing, doing the dishes in the joy of knowing that only God will see that selfless act because your family won’t even notice as the perpetual tidal wave of dirty dishes takes their place…      

In all the normal, everyday setbacks and complications we face- we can unite these valuable crosses to God for the conversion of sinners, and a reparation to Him most especially in the Blessed Sacrament.  No sickness goes without merit then, no financial stress is wasted.  It all has value.  Heck, even dealing with the intestinal issues of large dogs can be beneficial, in more ways than one…


You know, I’m pretty sure I remember during some lean years financially my husband Jim had suggested that instead of burning the furniture for heat, or possibly eating the weakest family member for sustenance, we could harness the dog and his consistent, steady stream of dependable gas.  Sometimes quite vocal, at one point Jim insisted there was a small girl crying in the living room, but no.  It was the dog.  They were the masters of their personal instruments.  My husband had brilliantly thought to sketch some plans that involved candles and some baffles the dog could wear which would “safely” convert their “product” into “clean energy-efficient heat”.  Unfortunately we nixed that idea as we weren’t sure if the dog would incinerate himself, and us.