(If the quote looks familiar, it’s the same one from the “Interdependence” post, so feel free to skip ahead. I promise the rest of the post is different!)
“In fact, we are always meeting in nature with admirable examples of the close correspondence between the forms of the organs and the offices they fulfill, even when these bring no actual benefit to the animal. The insects which suck nectar from flowers of a certain kind, develop probosces adapted to the length of corolla which those flowers possess. But they also develop a coating, quite useless to themselves, by which they collect pollen, and this fertilizes the flowers they will visit afterwards.
“So here is a great new upheaval in our ideas! From this fresh point of view, the purposes of the living seem to be related rather to the doing of work needed by the environment. It is almost as if the living were agents of creation, charged each with a particular task, like the servants in a large house, or the employee of a business. The harmony of nature on the earth’s surface is produced by the efforts of countless living beings, each of which has its own duties. These are the forms of behavior that we observe, and it follows that such behavior serves purposes far beyond the mere ministering of each to its own vital needs.”
~Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind
I especially like the phrase “agents of creation”. We are called to take an active role in creating a loving, welcoming, holy family in each of our homes, and to put this end above our individual desires. An agent is a very active person, working, striving for his goal. We tend to think of creation as something God did a long time ago, but each new person is a new creation, and we have the opportunity to re-create ourselves every morning when we get out of bed. Our call is to strive each day to create ourselves more in the likeness of Christ: more caring, more giving, more focused on others than on ourselves.
This can be a challenge after losing sleep to a crying infant, or having to get up much too early to go to a stressful job. But it strikes me as good challenge (or “resolution”) for the New Year, and it might do us more good than resolving to lose ten pounds: make a point to be a little more cheerful each morning (an early morning prayer can help here!), and a little kinder and more giving to the members of your family the rest of the day. These are the people who are easiest to neglect, but who are also the most important to really care for. Try counting the sacrifices you make during the day, not so that you can gloat about how much you give, but to help you recognize how much you are willing to give out of love for your family. You, like St. Therese, might even be surprised how little you actually do give of yourself each day! If you find yourself struggling to be giving, think of the act as an Epiphany present (or, in a few days, a very early Christmas present) that you may only have the opportunity to give now.? Christ gives himself to us daily, both through the Mass and in so many other ways; here is an opportunity to be Christlike through our gifts of service to our families.
Better yet, try to count how many sacrifices are made for you in the course of the day. You may be surprised how many you never recognized! Let your little acts of charity (especially the unrecognized ones!) be your gift for the grace of your family, and let your gratefulness for the sacrifices from which you benefit lift your spirits at the thought of all your many blessings!