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!
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.
From 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