Tuesday, May 08, 2007

What's mine is... not enough

I'm reading the writings of Dorothy Day in the book, "By Little and By Little". The introduction gives her life story. Dorothy Day was the co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement. She was a writer who lived her life in voluntary poverty, doing works of mercy, and in working for justice and better working conditions for the poor. She spent most of her adult life living in a hospitality house, taking in the destitute, feeding the hungry, seeing them as Christ embodied in the 'least of these'.

Since I struggle so much with my much smaller part in making the world a better place, I'm reading her writings to find out what gave her the ability to see Christ in people that I would completely miss.

This is what I'm finding out.
  • She expected life to be messy
  • Her response to the poor was not dependent on any sense of gratitude or worthiness on their part, but wholly on her knowledge that they were precious in the eyes of God
  • She was grounded solidly in her desire to be like Christ which clearly included active involvement with those less fortunate than her
  • She invested heavily in her spiritual life
According to the writer of the introduction, she attended mass daily, prayed the rosary daily, and spent 2 hours daily in meditation of scripture.

Mother Teresa also spent daily hours in prayer.

Martin Luther prayed an hour a day except when he was very busy. Then he prayed two hours.

My whining about not having time seems pretty small at this point. These people accomplished huge things. Time seemed not to be a problem.

Dorothy Day wrote of a priest she knew who spoke of the principle that 'as you sow, so also shall you reap'. He was from a poor parish and often needed money. His method was simple. If he needed money for something in his parish he took all the money he had and gave it away. Then mysteriously money would come in. If it wasn't yet enough he would again give it all away. This would continue until the need was met. Here is the principle with money. If you are finding money scarce, give it away.

With time, if it is scarce, give it away in prayer. I think there is wisdom here that I'm only scratching the surface of. Clearly we let go of ownership when we follow these ideas. It isn't my time or my money. If it isn't mine I don't have to work so hard to protect it. As I let go more and more I will find some release from the tyranny of time and money. Hopefully I will also have gained wisdom to know what is important use of my time and my money as well.