Today I’m delighted to welcome the Rev. Cathy George for the latest in the How We Spend Our Time series!
Cathy is an Episcopal priest and the author of You Are Already Praying: Stories of God at Work - a collection of stories about people from all walks of life who have come to see their work as prayer.
I’m lucky enough to know Cathy in person, since she is a member of our Collegeville Institute Seminar on vocation and profession, so I have gotten to admire up close her passion for helping people see their work as prayer.
(Full disclosure: I’m also a fan because she graciously invited me to share my story of my work as a mother as prayer – which you can read in her book!)
I hope Cathy’s book and her wise thoughts below will help you to see the way we spend most of our time – at work – as prayer, too.
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1) What is one truth about time you have learned since becoming a parent?
Time passes quickly. It doesn’t feel like it when we sit in the dentist’ s chair, or our days are dedicated to the care of a child’s needs, but it is fleeting. A child is no sooner born, than done nursing, and out of diapers and walking into kindergarten.
Being in the present moment, as fully as possible, is the one truth that I find worth practicing, day in and day out. Its fruits are abundant.
2) What is one practice of using time well that you have developed as a mother-writer?
Not waiting for the perfect time. Rather, stopping to ask myself if I really need to do this (email, phone call, laundry, cooking, etc.) or could it wait so that I could seize the time to write or read?
Setting expectations for myself that are reasonable and that don’t discourage me but take into account all that is on my plate that no one else might notice or acknowledge. Remembering that it is good for my children to see me at work on my work. It does not diminish my devotion to them, but shows them my whole life.
Letting go of writing goals when I was immersed in nursing, napping, feeding a child when the exhaustion was too depleting to expect myself to also be creative and instead to use writing as a joyful getaway, as a time to write, or vent in a journal for the joy of it and not expect myself to produce during a chapter of my life when I was already being productive.
3) What new insight about faith did you gain from writing this book?
I wrote the book because I wanted to encourage people of faith to see their whole lives as an opportunity for prayer. I learned, from those who shared their stories, and from those who are reading the book, that it is a message people need to hear.
Reading themselves into the stories of a mother at prayer, or a realtor, or painter, their lives open up before them as ceaseless moments to be in the presence of God in the tasks, work, play and challenges that make up any given day.
I learned that the sense of taking prayer into one’s actions, and workplace and family is not far off, not something to work hard at understanding, more like an “oh, yeah, I am already praying, now I know what to call it, now I can pray in and out of my whole day and not think of it as less than real prayer, but another form of prayer.”
I learned that we all want to be whole, to have a center to ourselves and our days that everything else revolves around, like the spokes of a wheel that move from the center hub. God is the hub of our life, and there is not a place in our day that God wants to be locked out of.
How we pray in church informs the prayer that goes on unceasingly in us as we leave church. It does not lessen the vitality and importance of our prayer life in quiet, or in Scripture, our living prayer becomes an expression for our faith.
4) What is your favorite way to spend time with your family?
Laughing and relaxing. I love to be with my family when we are laughing at each other, ourselves, or something funny. I love when we are watching a Sunday afternoon game on television, making a meal, folding laundry, and we are in comfortable clothes and enjoying the company of each other.
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Your turn to win! Cathy has generously offered one copy of You Are Already Praying: Stories of God at Work for a reader of Mothering Spirit.
To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below before midnight (CST) on Saturday, July 27th.
And to learn more about Cathy’s book and work, check out this in-depth interview she did with our staff at the Collegeville Institute!