Shovel in hand, I was breaking up the ice on my neighbor’s front walkway and clearing it away, after freezing rain had coated our streets and sidewalks with sheet ice. I had gladly offered to take care of her house while she vacationed in a warm spot down south, but I must say I hadn’t bargained for this ice-clearing job.
I put down my shovel and lifted my thought for inspiration.
The idea came to me that all around the world, people are engaged in quiet everyday tasks done with humble persistence. Taken together they constitute the very fabric of life. Every time a parent gets up in the night to comfort a crying child, every time a garbage collector removes the trash, every time a farmer puts in a long day in the fields, he or she is engaged in acts of patience, courage, and perseverance that help others move forward.
I felt a deep connection with all this purposeful activity. I sensed that we’re all somehow linked by these acts of love, and that we’re working together within the deeper rhythm and purpose of Spirit, in a universal unfoldment of orderliness, well-being, harmony, progress, satisfaction, affection. We’re meeting needs, accomplishing small goals, and bringing larger goals within closer reach. I saw that each constructive act is an individual expression of good, and that their joint momentum promotes collective good.
That frigid winter morning I felt that I was working in silent unison with everyone else who was quietly doing his or her tasks that day. I picked up the shovel again and finished clearing the walkway with ease. All the other tasks I did for my neighbor that month felt light and joyful.
There’s a timeless spiritual foundation for this feeling of connectedness. The Bible says, "Make it your aim to be at one in the Spirit, and you will be bound together in peace. There is one Body and one Spirit ... one God and Father of all, who is ... the one working through all and the one living in all" (Eph. 4:3, J.B. Phillips translation). This Bible passage goes on to say that all members of humanity are part of one universal "body" of purposeful activity, and that through the collective expression of spiritual qualities and talents we show forth the fullness of divine Life.
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science, wrote: "Goodness never fails to receive its reward, for goodness makes life a blessing. As an active portion of one stupendous whole, goodness identifies man with universal good" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," p. 165). Striving over the years to become more patient with all the daily tasks that need to get done, I’ve come to look at them less as taking up time and more as opportunities to express love. My heart is lifted when I realize that as I do each task, I’m joining together with all humanity in honest gestures of caring.
I’ve also seen that understanding the sacredness of humble tasks can have practical benefits. One day, after a huge snowstorm had dumped a foot of snow on our city, I shoveled for hours in front of my house and my neighbor’s as well. I ended up with an aching back, and I felt a creeping fear that my back would be as painful as in previous years when I’d done strenuous work. But I prayed with the idea that I couldn’t suffer from having done an honest task with love. The pain disappeared, and I haven’t experienced back pain since.
Each day is filled with quiet acts of love that unite us within the universal consciousness of infinite divine Love. As Mary Baker Eddy wrote, "Add one more noble offering to the unity of good, and so cement the bonds of Love" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896," p. 135).