When I was a young mother, I discovered that quality time with my children did not occur on schedule. It was only through quantity time that intimate intersections occurred.
Often those moments came at unexpected times. Sometimes our minds touched during a moment of laughter or when we were awestruck. Whenever one of us spotted a rainbow after a storm, we always shared it with whoever was around.
At the same time, if I were too caught up in getting tasks done–fixing meals, going to meets and games, supervising homework–I let those moments sift through my fingers uncaught.
In a recent email conversation with a friend about creating and finding quality moments in our shared community of faith, he pointed to the toll of the “droll and dross of parish ministry–of making ends meet, paying the bills, doing the pastoral work, cleaning up after church, polishing the silver,” among other tasks.
I don’t think church life is that much different from family life. Relationships, the primary way we transmit our faith to each another and from one generation to the next, are often forged in the “droll and dross of parish ministry.”
Intimate conversations about our lives, family members, successes and failures can happen while we are counting money on a Sunday afternoon, visiting a shut-in, cleaning up after a dinner, or doing any of the tasks we are called to do in our churches.
These conversations make possible an entry into the thin spaces where we forge stronger relationships among each other and with God. This can happen if we raise our level of awareness and truly believe that God can make any moment holy, whether we are participating in a joyous worship service or spending time afterward scraping wax from the floor.
The discipline of spiritual practices individually and in community will help us look for God in the moment, no matter how mundane it may be. The Season of Advent is a perfect time to hone those practices that give meaning to our lives and our relationships with others.
The next time you are immersed in the “dross and droll of parish ministry,” look around and see where God is working. Quality formation may come from the quantity time of parish ministry.
Dorothy Linthicum (@dslinthicum)