Glorious Monotony

Most of our days, our jobs, and our lives are filled with monotony. This is a fact. At work and at home, we often find ourselves engaged in tasks that we are all-too-quick to label as boring, rote, routine. These are tasks we regard as unimportant, insignificant, and boring.

I’ve noticed that most of us resist the monotonous aspect of our lives in one way or another. We feel contempt for the aspects of our work and our life that lack excitement–the filing of reports, the laundry, the petty conflicts we’re asked to sort out, the traffic, grading papers–tasks that are expected of us and that need to get done, but that only serve to maintain the status quo.

Oftentimes the Church unwittingly reinforces our disdain for the monotonous in the way we speak of vocation. We ask about people’s passion, what they love, and what energizes them. Their answer to these questions we name their vocation, their calling. We bless whatever people say feeds them.

Such questions are certainly important, but they are only half the story. There is a dark side to thinking of vocation only in terms of our passion. Aside from reinforcing our addiction to positive emotion, equating vocation with passion loses sight of God’s Presence in the small, passionless details of everyday life. Mother Theresa is on point when she says, “We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love.”

Is much of your day spent doing something that lacks vigor and excitement? Perhaps God is calling you to leave, to find your passion, and to pursue a different task. But consider that your vocation might not be a call to a different task but rather a call to learn the art of doing your tasks differently.