Unless you have pets or small children, this may gross you out. (And even if you do, it still might make you say, “bleah.”)

When you have only one of something you take really good care of it, right? Gollum and his Precious.  Willy Wonka and his chocolate factory. Humans and their gallbladders.

Or me and my Advent booklet. I’m down to one copy, and according to the publisher’s website, the book is sold out. Now as a freelance writer I rely on my work samples to bring in more work. So I usually treat samples the way a paleontologist cares for a rare dinosaur bone.  But I wanted to actually use the Advent book this year with my family to try it out. So I’ve been leaving my one, solitary copy on the dining room table next to the Advent wreath as a little reminder.

What could possibly go wrong?

Oh let’s see, perhaps this…

Or possibly this…

One of them went spectacularly wrong today. I won’t say who (although I have a pretty good idea) decided my book would make a charming placemat for, ahem, revisiting dinner, if you know what I mean.

Actually it could have been much worse. The craft project landed on one small corner of the book, and I caught it pretty quickly. So you’d never notice anything had happened. But I did complain loudly and uselessly.

But I’m also grateful to them. Yes, to my cats. I know it’s weird, but I get a lot of compliments from some very kind people about my writing. So it’s easy for me to get very impressed by, well, me. But my cats remind me that no matter what I do, it could easily get thrown up on or pooped on (really literally), and that’s more than okay. Because it’s not about me, it never is.

I’m really starting to get what St. Josemaría Escrivá meant when he said, “It is in the most material things of the earth that we must sanctify ourselves, serving God and all mankind.”

I always thought the day-to-day struggles were just ways God tests us. But they’re way more than that. They’re the ways he loves us. Every detail—whether it’s loading the dishwasher, spellchecking a file, sitting in a cubicle next to someone you loathe, changing a diaper, standing in line to recycle plastic bottles so you can make enough money to get by this month–it’s all a prayer. A way to communicate with God.  And the more mundane, ignoble, obscure and difficult the job is, the more we’re imitating the God who took on a lowly human form. There’s the gift. “Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away,” Jesus says. It’s all part of the plan. The way we get to heaven.

I’d keep going, but it sounds like the cat is creating another gift for me in the other room. Time to do some work.

God bless.


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