Invitation 3: Identity


Can you approach your chores today as a meditation?
Write your Answer – click here

Transcript of Video:

One of the words which we Brothers use very frequently is invitation and we’re always asking ourselves, “So what’s the invitation here?” Believing that life by nature is an invitation and it’s God’s invitation to participate in life, in God’s life.

I think certainly in a Monastery, and it’s probably true in your own life, a huge percentage of the day is tedious. We’re not climbing the spiritual mountains we’re washing the dishes, petting the dog, you know, cutting the grass, washing the clothes, getting from point A to point B. Most of life is that. And so I would say it’s in those contexts which may not be completely apparent. What is this to be about that we should be asking the question what’s the invitation here. What is the invitation in this moment?

It may be you’re passing by people on the street, you’re walking or you’re on a bus or a subway, you’re in commuter traffic, and you’re seeing people sitting beside you or seeing people through car windows. What are you seeing? Can you put a blessing on them? Can you radiate God’s light and life and love onto their being. We’re on this perpetual mission field that God is with us always and we would not want to miss a moment of life. If God is really present to us in the face and form of Jesus, Jesus is going to be really present to us in every passing moment. What is the invitation now?

– Br. Curtis Almquist


  1. Christopher Engle Barnhart on March 27, 2014 at 14:25

    I think that an Invitation in my life is the acceptance of those chores I do everyday such as washing the dishes, helping prepare dinner, washing clothes, etc. as a new experience because I know that by doing so to the best of my ability only makes life easy for everyone in our home.

  2. Beth on March 25, 2014 at 11:10

    For me , beginning the day in prayer, and conversation, then ending the day the same way, and being open to same opportunities throughout the day , makes my daily acts a full day of meditation. I might see an auto accident, , hear or meet someone that needs a prayer. Or, there could be a need for a prayer of thanks, or hope.

  3. TM on March 21, 2014 at 11:28

    Though the saying is, “The devil is in the details”, I feel that Christ is in the details. Whether it’s slowing down to see the whorls in a shell, or noticing how the sink shines after I scrub it. There are beauties and joys in living in all aspects, work or play.

  4. maida on March 20, 2014 at 21:47

    Thank you Brother Curtis!

    Bob and I just watched this…..he said “Good Question!”

    I feel like God is inviting me to stop multitasking and to be present in the mundane….which is currently a place where I typically reach for something “more”…like the phone or the radio, or the “to do list”. I feel like I am being invited to stop that. I think I might have been missing something…thank you!

  5. Pam on March 20, 2014 at 13:13

    “the Eucharist of the ordinary”–can’t remember where I read that, but I think it’s a wonderful way to think of our chores and daily activities.

    • TM on March 21, 2014 at 11:27

      I love that idea!

  6. Barbara Harris on March 20, 2014 at 11:50

    I love the invitation to radiate God’s love when you are traveling pass fellow travelers. What a great image! I often find the invitation to the mundane a way of showing my love for those I am working for. To do the task to the best of my ability shows how important those people are to me and hopefully they get the message when the put on that really clean, neatly folded shirt or eat that meal so lovingly prepared for them.

    • Joyce McGirr on March 20, 2014 at 13:12

      I love the invitation to. And it can also be when you are just sitting next to someone, like in a waiting room of a hospital or in a coffee shop or wherever. Just blessing others with God’s love in silence is a wondrous thing.

  7. Marilyn Weir on March 20, 2014 at 10:52

    I am very struck by Br. Curtis’s phrase “perpetual mission field.” It certainly puts a very different light on what it is to live in this world that by its nature can be loving and kind one minute then brutal and hateful in the next. I have moments when I see those around me – wherever I happen to be in that moment – as light beings and we are sharing the same light. But then much of the time I am frustrated and angry because someone didn’t communicate properly and once again I am left in the dark about something I should be informed about. Or someone lets the door close in front of me as I enter a shop. Or someone pisses me off when they pull out in front of me in traffic. Etc., etc.
    I see this expression “perpetual mission field” as an invitation – an opportunity – to remind myself that we are all one. We are all struggling with our own stuff and sometimes it seems as if we are not very nice or caring, but mostly we are struggling. So I am reminded to make room to be kind, to send a blessing, to smile, to wait.

  8. Kathleen Sheehy on March 19, 2014 at 21:18

    Looking ahead to a very busy day tomorrow – mindfulness, mindfulness, mindfulness. God beside me, God before me, God around me, God within me. Resting in Him. Trusting.

  9. Maureen on March 19, 2014 at 20:54

    + This is hard. Once in a while I can do it, but more often it’s done to me. I might drop money in a person’s alms cup. (Once a young woman made me take back my dollar. ‘You’re like me. You need it too.’) smile. They bless me, radiating Jesus’ love. People on a bus help me get my bags off, give me a seat, hold me so I don’t fall.
    Brother Lawrence and St Theresa talked about God in dishwater. Maybe, but never in office chores and such.
    One thing I try to do is put a cross atop letters and such. It reminds me that I want to follow God’s plan, not mine.

  10. Dorothy Wilson on March 19, 2014 at 20:10

    I love the thought of meditating in everything I do. Praying for other people, as you go about your day. Chores are no longer dull , but is opening yourself up to God, expressing his love through you to others. That is exciting way to be part of everyone’s life.

  11. LindaR on March 19, 2014 at 17:07

    Thank you, Br. Curtis, for this! What a beautiful way to approach everyday life! It will be a challenge, but it would make every moment have more depth, more purpose, more room for love. I will try, with God’s help.

  12. Sr. Donna Morgan,OGS on March 19, 2014 at 16:52

    We can make chores a meditation and should. All things should be done for the glory of God; this means everything we do. If we keep that in mind and then remember to approach all things in that context, we are learning the truest meaning of love.

  13. Dorothy Brown on March 19, 2014 at 16:46

    For me the invitation is for gratitude. I am grateful for cement drive into work, the driver who is always waiting for me, the produce he brings, the people who loaded the truck, the people who grew the produce and God for making it all happen.

  14. Lisa on March 19, 2014 at 16:36

    “If God is really present to us in the face and form of Jesus, Jesus is going to be really present to us in every passing moment. What is the invitation now?”
    I pray there are one hundred and one tasks today for this question to wash, paint, and drive through my heart.
    Thank you, Brother Curtis, for bringing God-in-Jesus
    unavoidably closer and inescapably clearer.

  15. Pam on March 19, 2014 at 16:24

    God and Jesus in the little things I do ……. the simple things – What a beautiful reminder today it has been! Thanks for all your comments too – they made me smile all the way through 🙂

  16. Jenny Hall on March 19, 2014 at 16:23

    Yes. Practicing the presence of God in the routine mundane things becomes a holy habit.

  17. Pam on March 19, 2014 at 16:01

    Other people have mentioned Br. Lawrence, and of course he comes to mind. Fred Buechner’s comment, “God comes to you disguised as your life,” is another. The question poses a real challenge to me, because it’s so easy to get caught up in the “dailies,” as Sr. Joan Chittister calls them. As a device to help me approach daily chores as a meditation, I have landed on the practice of pronouncing blessings. I don’t think a blessing confers holiness on something, an object or an action; I rather think it is already holy because being holy is already part of its givenness, because something of it is already part of God’s creation. It already shares God’s own holiness. But pronouncing a blessing on something is a way of seeing it from a divine perspective. I think the fallout from pronouncing blessing is that it leads you to a place of compassion, patience, gratefulness, and surrender. And another wonderful effect of offering blessing is that we are blessed in return. I am reminded of the last two lines of a Rumi poem, in which he says, “Let the beauty we love be what we do./There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” So I will make a more concerted attempt to practice blessing–the water with which I wash the dishes, the stick I almost tripped on coming into the house, the beauty of the three deer that were on the side of the road but did not run in front of my car, my ability to be physically able to go to the gym to work out. When I think of it in those terms, everything in my daily life offers opportunities for meditation. God is fully in the world because he is an incarnate God.

    • gwedhen nicholas on March 19, 2014 at 17:56

      Pam, When you say “pronouncing blessings” on activities and things, do you mean that you thank God? Or do you literally bless them? Please answer as I long to know.

  18. Brenda on March 19, 2014 at 15:14

    Jesus is the bread of everyday life.

  19. larry j on March 19, 2014 at 15:11

    Thank you Brother Curtis for the question, “What is the invitation?” With retirement has come a new set of chores and being able to do laundry or vacuum my rugs is such a gift. In June of 2013 i had open heart surgery where prior I could hardly breathe I now can do the everyday chores of life. I know longer take chores as mundane but as gifts from God.

  20. Cheryl cronin on March 19, 2014 at 13:55

    Yet another morning when the words and heart of these beautiful meditations illuminate my day. THANK YOU, Father God, and the wonderful monks of SSJE for the “right” fit of message to day everyday! I am blessed to be here, now.

  21. John Okerman on March 19, 2014 at 13:20

    I will try to approach today as an invitation. As one person stated it will be harder to remember to do this each day. I often think an invitation from God is only during a time of crisis or need. However, to approach each day and look at other people as an invitation is different. I will try this today. I’m about to leave for a day of snow skiing and will reflect on the beauty of the drive to the mountain, the beauty of winter, and the people who I will be around.

  22. gwedhen nicholas on March 19, 2014 at 13:20

    Thank you Br Curtis. This is a reminder which I need. Being present in the moment is being present to God. I know this, but so often I forget and I am just automatically doing what I’m doing without awareness. I long to be aware of other people and to bless them. If I am in the moment then I can, because I will be aware of them, just as I am aware of God.

  23. Lorna Harris on March 19, 2014 at 13:15

    When I said I don’t have a lo of chores, I then thought, well, what is a chore for me. I enjoy doing a lot of mundane things like washing dishes, tidying and folding laundry – mind you, likely because there is not an overwhelming amount. On the other hand, I hate ironing. That is a chore. So what is God inviting me to when I iron…. I suppose I could bring to mind the people and occasions the pieces to be ironed remind me of.

    • Maureen on March 19, 2014 at 21:00

      I think laundry is a Zen exercise. Point of iron into outer edge of collar. Now point between each button. Take time to appreciate how smooth the fabric is. Now enjoy the swoops on the larger areas.
      I know it’s silly, but…

  24. Lorna Harris on March 19, 2014 at 13:04

    Sometimes I look back on my day and say what on earth have I done of value today. Did I get anything “done.” I’m retired so I don’t have to do a lot of chores, but I still feel I need to have had a “productive” day. So I would change the question a bit and ask to what is God inviting me when I feel I am frittering away my time. It’s kind of a different form of meaningless activity from a chore, but at least a chore accomplishes something useful. Maybe God is inviting me to relax and be playful and not feel I have to account for every second. hmmmm…

  25. MRM on March 19, 2014 at 12:44

    I am delighted by this new way to frame a faithful response to each moment and opportunity . . . “what is the invitation here?”
    I have always responded to my inner resistance to chores by focusing on the expression of love that they are (I do the laundry because I love the family – or self – that wears the clothes and should always be able to be clean and beautiful OR I don’t want my husband to eat off of dirty dishes or have to do the dishes, so I will do them), and in that they become a meditation on God’s work through me.

    But looking to see the invitation in all things extends the line of thought and prayer to so much more, for instance every time my phone rings, interrupting the difficult work I’m in the midst of with a question that is easy and basic to me . . . but not to the caller. This new framing will keep me from annoyance and impatience, and instead remind me that I am here to help and support the work of others.

    • Deacon Susan in California on March 21, 2014 at 00:59

      MRM, thank you, this helps me to see what to do with my annoyance at others’ asking me what I think is obvious.

  26. Jack Zamboni on March 19, 2014 at 11:38

    It seems to me that this video was misnamed: it should have been Invitation rather than Identity.

    That said, the “chore” before me today (which I have been putting off) is preparing for a CREDO Conference — work that likely will invite me to greater self-knowledge; leading, God willing, to healthier self-care. Much of my life is spent caring for others: seeing today’s “chore” as an invitation to self-care is a grace. Thank you.

  27. Gwendolyn on March 19, 2014 at 11:20

    The mundane of our lives is one of God’s greatest blessings! When life get tedious and routine, this is evidence of it being safe and secure and intrinsically supported by the love of God. When chores are so ingrained in our “muscle memory” that we don’t even have to think about what we are doing, we can think about other things, converse with others, converse with God.

    (One of my favorite conversations whilst doing a mundane task goes something like this:
    Me–“God, I hate doing laundry. I know! I have a great idea! YOU do it for me, please.”
    God–“Um, no thank you. I hate doing laundry too, and since it’s not mine, dearie, YOU can do it.”
    Me–“You’re no fun. You know that, right?”
    God–“As if my doing your laundry would be an indication of how fun I am. You realize I have never done laundry before. If I were to do yours, God knows how it would turn out [and I really do know how it would turn out], and do you really want to risk that? Of course, it might be fun!”
    And by this point in the conversation, I’m either done with the laundry, or I’ve forgotten about it completely and wandered off somewhere with God. See? A blessing!)

    • Win on March 19, 2014 at 13:21

      Oh my! I know this must be my daughter! Now must I be careful what I write here? Heaven forbid!! 😉

  28. Christina on March 19, 2014 at 11:04

    What is the invitation right now. Right now. Right this minute:
    Blessings to you Brother Curtis.
    You bring me such wonderful messages. Christina

  29. kc on March 19, 2014 at 10:35

    meditating throughout chores is an ideal that sounds wonderful. But do I need it in order to be closer to my maker? The only time I “lose” myself in a “chore” is in gardening and working it. I forget time and daylight. My family calls me in after dark. The rest of my chores – all the mundane stuff that we deal with every day – is but a piece of the day.

    I’m trying to write my answer without peeking at the above comments, and it IS tempting, because maybe I sound shallow. To me it is not necessary, but it is NICER, to think of meditating through chores. I like that some chores don’t FEEL like chores, and I’m grateful that I find meditative time in them

  30. ClayOla on March 19, 2014 at 10:34

    ‘This is EXACTLY what I have been thinking and feeling and experiencing!” I am jealous for the times I have to be away from my chores–because chore time is so inviting. “Doing chores as meditation” is exactly why they are so wonderful. I drive along Mulberry Road toward work and see a couple jogging. In a moment they will pass an old man walking his dog, wobbly, wobbly, wobbly down the sidewalk. At the corner, a woman is watering her flower bed. A horse leans against his fence, waiting for breakfast. The very air has joyful substance. And I am consumed with their beauty and the life expressed in their being. I feel gratitude surge up in me and I pray the day’s blessing on them all and thank God for this moment, this place, this experience of him.

    • gwedhen nicholas on March 19, 2014 at 13:26

      Oh Clay, that is beautiful!

  31. Jane Anne Gleason on March 19, 2014 at 10:29

    This has been my practice (or attempt) for many years. On the days I fail to center and pray at the start of the day things just don’t seem to go well. I know I need to have God in Jesus Christ at the center of my day to day mundane tasks.

  32. Julie Coryell on March 19, 2014 at 10:19

    Serving on the Altar Guild at church soon after my baptism taught me that “it is all worship.” And from studies in Buddhism, I absorbed, “treat everything as a gift.” And Kathleen Norris give us the lovely word, “quotidian.” Thanks for this heart-opening series!

  33. Bob O. on March 19, 2014 at 10:17

    For me, today, I will embrace the invitation to see all of the people I will interact with as an invitation to be an icon of Jesus, as He works through me to minister to them.

    • Win on March 19, 2014 at 13:08

      Works great the other way around too! Once a long time ago, I was practicing seeing Jesus in everyone I met. I was driving down the NJ turnpike and coming to a toll booth decided I’d see Jesus in the toll collector. As I handed him my change, he said to me, “You’re a beautiful lady!” I don’t think anyone had ever said anything like that to me just out of the blue before. Well it sure got my attention! But then again maybe he’d just been reading the same book I’d been reading! 😉

  34. Cush on March 19, 2014 at 10:16

    Because of some limitations I am at home alone most of the day and cannot drive, and I used to be “so busy”. It is easy to just not do anything and that was kind of fun when I first retired. Part of the invitation to me that has resulted is to take on more Lenten discipline this year with more time spent in reading and formation. It is so easy to become complacent in this situation and the discipline has roused me out of that and I pray that I continue it after Easter and continue to use this gift of time for life-long formation and do what I can when I can get a ride.

  35. Gloria Veltman on March 19, 2014 at 10:05

    Prayerize one’s life. Not an original thought with me but one I keep coming back to-whether doing something momentous or making the bed. Especially on the treadmill.

  36. Julie Watt Faqir on March 19, 2014 at 10:00

    This is a tough one for me because a lot of the chores Brother Curtis referenced…laundry, doing the dishes, are things I am doing today and thinking of them as anything other than required drudgery is tough. I suppose the invitation is to always be aware that even in the most seemingly mundane activities God is with me loving me so maybe I should also be meditating on how I can love others in every moment?

    • Win on March 19, 2014 at 12:51

      Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God has been a big help for me. You might enjoy it as well, but sounds like you already have the main idea!

  37. Angel on March 19, 2014 at 09:59

    One idea for those who drive:

    • Win on March 19, 2014 at 12:46

      Love the idea of prayer wheels! Thank you.

  38. ellen on March 19, 2014 at 09:49

    I am writing “what is the invitation now?” on a note card to remind me that my Friend Jesus is with me all day today. Thank you.

  39. Barbara Hemmings Gray on March 19, 2014 at 09:40

    Going through a time of grief(my baby brother died Age 63 but still my baby brother. )Trying to remember that the “stuff” can be done with help of God.

    • Win on March 19, 2014 at 12:41

      You have company but not sure that helps really. Lost my oldest sister when she was 59 nearly 30 years ago now, and I still remember leaving our Vermont home for her Ohio home to a gorgeous early morning sunrise and feeling so sad that she’d not see it! But you know, tho’ it still makes me sad thinking about it, I also think perhaps she saw an even more glorious sunrise that I can’t even imagine! It helps some, but I still miss her.

  40. Susan on March 19, 2014 at 08:47

    Can I do this? Yes, will I? Maybe. It will depend on whether or not I can remain one with Christ throughout my day. Each chore, or task or activity can be a way of becoming one with God. My job is to be sure that I am open to it.

  41. Cheryl on March 19, 2014 at 08:32

    of course we can do this – this day was given to all of us as a blessing from God and I will embrace whole-heartedly with every day He brings to me and every night He brings me through – be aware and really aware of every moment that we are blessed to have

  42. Mary on March 19, 2014 at 08:12

    I love this – what is the invitation here? I’ve asked myself, what do I need to learn from this or what do I need to see, that I couldn’t see before – but what is the invitation here is much gentler! Thank you!

  43. Susan on March 19, 2014 at 08:09

    Loved reading and hearing the connection of radiating Christ’s love in the tedious tasks of daily living! Thanks for the reminder my life must reflect my love of Christ to truly invite others to share in the mysteries and miracles of faith. Peace.

  44. Br. Stephen Francis Arnold, OSB on March 19, 2014 at 07:55

    I approach a chore as though I am serving someone as God would serve them. Through prayer this allows me to move on through the day, through each chore, until I look back and say, ‘Well done!’

  45. Kathryn on March 19, 2014 at 07:49

    I can approach my chores as a meditation if I consider my identity to be grounded more in how I do things than what I am doing. This remains a challenge and I am glad to have the reminder; my rule of life and daily question routine provide significant support for this way of thinking and being.

    • Win on March 19, 2014 at 12:14

      Great advice Kathryn… Thank you.

  46. Mary Caulfield on March 19, 2014 at 07:31

    I have many one-on-one meetings with students, including one who has expressed vehement dislike for me. I’m trying to look upon all my meetings, but especially the one with that student, as a chance for me to give help and learn something new. I’m praying for a way to get out of the “who’s up / who’s down” way of thinking.

    • Joyce McGirr on March 19, 2014 at 08:59

      That’s a hard one. Sounds like his anger is a whole lot of projection on you–wonder what his hurt is all about? I had that with a student and I think if I remember we came to a reasonable agreement. He would do something for me to make my life easier and likewise I would do something for him. It was you could say almost like a covenant and we developed a small signal that we could make together that also worked. It made our daily life in school a little easier. I loved what you said about learning from the student–wow! that’s certainly in the moment. I pray the same for him to learn from you and your excellence. Hope the best for you.

    • kc on March 19, 2014 at 10:39

      your openness to hearing this student is your greatest strength

  47. David Goodwin on March 19, 2014 at 07:08

    Can I? I must. And yet I am so easily distracted. To fight for joy right now – and every “right now” – this is surely part of what we pray together when we say, “Thy will be done on earth as in heaven.” To hallow every moment. To find here and everywhere an opportunity to breathe a blessing on everyone and everything. May the Lord make it so today for each of us.

  48. Bob Stains on March 19, 2014 at 07:03

    This question -“What is the invitation?”- has been a great help to me. But prior to viewing this clip, I’d only held it close in times of professional or personal challenge. Sort of a “deficit orientation,” standing in place of “Why are you doing this to me?” I’d not thought of it as a companion in the hum-drum or craziness of daily life; as an invitation to pass along love and blessing. What a great opportunity to live more deeply into the ordinary!

  49. Jim on March 19, 2014 at 06:16

    Can I do this? I can try but the question is, “Will I remember to do this today?” That is a better question and the answer might be, “It depends on the day”.

  50. Christopher Epting on March 19, 2014 at 06:04

    Can I approach my chores today as a meditation? Not sure, but I will try. Lots of running around and things to get done before heading out to the House of Bishops meeting in Texas tomorrow. May this word allow me to remain centered in the midst of the busy details.

    • Win on March 19, 2014 at 12:09

      Our former priest put a sign over every exit door in our church – “You are now entering your mission field”. I love those reminders of her and the invitation those signs are giving to me every time I leave church. Brother Lawrence is also a favorite of mine so meditating on the mundane is not new to me. It is always a challenge to make Holy the common and to make the Holy even more so! Thank you for reminding me!

  51. Nan on March 19, 2014 at 05:57

    About doing chores: Read “The Monk in the Kitchen” by Anna Hempstead Branch. “Whoever makes a thing more bright, he is an angel of all light.” My Mom’s favorite poem. Nan

  52. Bob on March 19, 2014 at 04:18

    What a cracker!

    Br Curtis has identified something then switched to be back on prayer and closeness with God after many years lost.

    Like many people, my life feels that packed with things to do other stuff. Many of those are not requiring intensive concentration. In those times, I can live life around me, and meditate, pray and connect with those around me.

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