I’ve always liked St. Isidore the Farmer, because he’s a farmer, a person in the world. He was thought to be so devout that the angels did the plowing for him, so he could sit and pray. But I like to think that he prayed while he plowed—that his plowing was his prayer, as our work in the world can be prayer, too. Our daily lives can be our path to holiness.
The other day I was tired after my morning teaching, so I went out to the quad and sat on a bench and had my lunch. It was one of those beautiful sunny days we’ve been having now and then, in between the rain. Everything was green. I watched the students walking by and ate my tuna fish and gradually my spirit began to lift, my sadness to ease.
And all this time at the foot of the bench there’d been a plaque explaining who the bench was dedicated to. I’d been looking at it upside down. But it was only when I got up to go and was brushing off my pants that I finally really read the name.
I’d been sitting on a bench dedicated to an old friend, I’d been sitting on a bench in loving memory of someone I’d taught with in the English Department for years, and I hadn’t known it. I wasn’t paying attention.
There it was, carved into the brass so plainly and clearly it seemed to me like a commandment.
“The Lord made the heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them,” Paul tells us today in Acts. Even before our Lord himself, the Father gave us witness, “for he gave us the rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filled us with nourishment and gladness for our hearts,” and he still does.
But now in the name of Jesus. The name on the plaque is the name of Jesus—the whole world is dedicated to the name of Jesus, the whole universe, and everything speaks that name, again and again, if only we will stop and read it, and that name is the name of someone who isn’t dead and isn’t gone but is here, working in all things, shining through all things, and nothing is ever lost, and nothing is ever forgotten, but everything is being brought together and taken up and made holy, now and forever.