Brother Lawrence did his work without complaining or grumbling. His work was as a kitchen aide in a monastery in France. Most of his life at the monastery was spent working in the kitchen; not as a superior but as a lowly kitchen hand who washed dishes and lived in obscurity. He died in 1691 but no one other than his brothers in the monastery seemed to notice. It wasn’t until after his death that a series of “maxims” and conversations were recorded and presented as the book “The Practice of the Presence of God” that Brother Lawrence gained notoriety.
Brother Lawrence lived in a world, as we do as well, where certain positions and jobs have more significance than others. He lived in a world, as we do as well, where certain religious practices “matter” while others mean very little. But the genius of Brother Lawrence was his ability to find God in the ordinary. “Men invent means and methods of coming at God’s love, they learn rules and set up devices to remind them of that love, and it seems like a world of trouble to bring oneself into the consciousness of God’s presence. Yet it might be so simple. Is it not quicker and easier just to do our common business wholly for the love of him?” He later says that it is enough for him to “pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God.”
While we look at our work and chores as hindrances and distractions from other, more noble, pursuits, Brother Lawrence looked at his work as the most noble and spiritual exercise that he participated in each day . He found God in a kitchen, among the plates and cups and leftovers. Perhaps we need to take a cue from Brother Lawrence and bring our faith into our work and seek His presence, even in the most mundane and ordinary.