It has been a long time since I “punched a clock” on a daily basis to earn a wage. Now, I am doing so again. It has been a very interesting experience and a good one for me to remind me of what most people face on a daily basis.
When you are working as full-time clergy, it is not as difficult to schedule time for study, reading, and praying. When you are employed in a secular setting, your time is directed or at least should be directed to the benefit of your employer. Your schedule is determined by the duties of your particular employment. You are not as free to pursue the same type of focused spiritual pursuits in the same manner as clergy.
So now, instead of taking twenty or thirty minutes of centering prayer, I focus on times of practicing the presence as I carry out my assigned duties where I work. Instead of sitting and reading the Bible, I now carry out “eyes-opened meditation” on Scriptures or prayers. Instead of listening and providing spiritual direction to directees, I listen to customers and co-workers and only offer words about faith if directly asked.
The secular market is a challenge. It is a world that often seems to flow with no awareness of the always present reality of God. Price and products, services and smiles are the primary interest. Yet, the hunger for something more seems to resonate from almost every soul I encounter. Every act of authentic care and courtesy, every empathetic word of encouragement, every truthfully spoken, “Bless you,” seems to bring a bit of light to those to whom my attention is directed.
The secular market is also a place of continual spiritual warfare. The enemy is constantly seeking to tempt or distract. To let one’s guard down is to risk an unchecked response or a negative emotion. You do encounter individuals who are either under attack or obviously wounded and in need of prayer, yet also suspicious of any kind word or gesture.
I accept this place, this challenge I am currently facing. I have accepted this situation as both an opportunity and as a remedial. I pray I am humbly open to both.