Sunday, 26 February 2012

Pause In Lent #1–Diligence

A Pause in Lent Floss

Why ever did I email Floss with a list of ‘virtues’ as a suggestion for ‘themes’ for PIL? From the moment she thought it was a workable idea I have been desperately lacking in inspiration. I can only apologise to other PIL bloggers who may be struggling too!

charley harper cardinal cradle

Floss introduced me to the American artist Charley Harper [1922 –2007],who painted a whole series of pictures of Cardinal birds –which seemed to be apt illustrations for the theme. This one is ‘Cardinal Cradle’- a mother bird feeding her young.

But I am a Baptist, and these Catholic virtues [cardinal, capital, theological etc.] are not things I have studied much before.

I decided to begin with ‘Diligence’ – I did some research and came up with these definitions [mostly from various Catholic websites]

  • A zealous and careful nature in one’s actions and work.
  • Decisive work ethic [that sounds quite Protestant to me!]
  • Budgeting one’s time
  • Monitoring one’s own activities to guard against laziness.

Then there was this one on another website – the Definition of Diligence from the Catholic catechism.

  • The decision to fulfil all of the responsibilities in our vocation or state in life.

I have been pondering this for a few days now- and conclude that diligence is an important virtue, because it is all about the things we put on our ‘to-do’ list, whether it is a physical list written in a book, scribbled on a whiteboard, or typed into an electronic gizmo – or even if it is just something in our head.

I need to be clear about the things that are my responsibility – and the ones that are not. And concentrate on completing the former to the best of my ability, and leaving the latter to the Almighty to sort out.

JugglingwifeFrom my own experience I am conscious that many women who are working wives and/or mothers get bogged down with guilt about the things they haven’t done. I know Pastors who burn out because they try to do all the tasks in their fellowship by themselves. I’m sure you can come up with other people who find their workload impossible, and struggle with the “work/life balance” issue.

Years ago, I remember going to bed [far too late] and being really cross with myself because my to-do list for that day was almost entirely bereft of crossed-off tasks. There had been a lot of interruptions, mostly of a ‘pastoral’ nature, plus some minor ‘family crises’ relating to the kids. Bob calmed me down [with a cuddle and a cup of tea] and reminded me that the things I had done that day had all been important, and even if I hadn’t put them on my agenda, maybe they were on God’s to-do list for my day. Other people had been blessed and helped, and the children had gone to bed safe, fed, warm and happy. And that was because I had been diligently fulfilling my responsibilities.

If Lent is about re-evaluating priorities, and living more simply, then learning diligence is part of that. Making sure I am clear about the things I need to do, and doing them well – and guarding against the laziness and time-wasting which may prevent me from being effective.

And before anyone comments that I am always busy, and they cannot believe I am ever lazy, I have to tell you that I keep an oven-timer by my PC, as I can easily get sucked into time wasting web-surfing. And as for ‘activities I can do to put off doing the ironing’ …

Part of developing the virtue of diligence is recognising the areas where one is tempted into its opposite vice of sloth.

I am so grateful for those ‘diligent’ people – the friends at church who will say “I can do that job” and I know they will do it, and do it enthusiastically and well for the glory of God.

‘Cardinal Cradle’ seemed a good choice of picture today – the mother diligently fulfilling her obligations towards her young.

For other Pause In Lent Blogs check out the list Floss has posted


  1. as someone with OCD I probably could do with less diligence in my life! Unfortunately I actually stop myself doing the things I enjoy by beating myself up constantly because I have duties to fulfill - like the ironing, trip to the rubbish dump, window cleaning, etc! Your post is a reminder to assess whether I have the balance right. Thanks

  2. Hello Angela - welcome to my blog, I like what you write very much indeed and I think I needed to read the Isaiah 30 verse today. you might like my recent post on Mother Julian of Norwich xx

  3. A thought provoking post, as usual. Thank you. I am particularly tempted to slothfulness today - I have a huge pile of ironing!!!
    I must be diligent though with my Lenten disciplines. They're not very arduous, and your post will help me to remember this.

    1. I suspect you are more diligent than I - you are working through the list in order, rather than cherry-picking the one you found easiest, as I have done.

  4. Sorry, forgot to say, here ( is my Thank You to you. A lovely gift!

  5. I love your posts! I was feeling down as am having an ME/cfs episode (legs not working to well today) and have not ticked much at all off my list! Now I have realised that I did get to my volunteering shift at our local MS centre, attended an ME meet where we prepped for the next self help course we are running and have been at the end of a phone to a worried son as grandaughter has been down with a sickness bug (better now thankfully) and also chatted by phone to worried friends in need. God puts us where we are meant to be!

    1. Sounds like you have been really busy, being a blessing to others. And you have reminded me that I need to sponsor my Steph who is doing a half marathon for the MS society in a fortnight's time!

  6. Hi Angela!
    Oh, such good words you share today. Thank you.
    I'm glad that between your two great brains, you and Floss came up with this for our pauses this year. I so appreciate knowing you.

  7. Good post Angela... diligence is definitely one of the attributes I see in your blog... including accepting the challenge/disicipline of series like this one. I will look forward to the next pause...

  8. Well that's just typically non-conformist, Ang! I've spent the whle time delighted that Cost fits so well with the idea of courage (and neglecting the bit about pursuit of knowledge...) and here's diligence! I really must pay more attention!

  9. "I need to be clear about the things that are my responsibility – and the ones that are not. And concentrate on completing the former to the best of my ability, and leaving the latter to the Almighty to sort out." That is something that really speaks to me. I do try to carry burdens that I was never intended to carry and part of my lent needs to be to learn to put them down.

    As for diligence and being distracted by the computer...well...erm...are you looking over my shoulder?


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