Everyday Spirituality

Posts tagged ‘prayer life’

Lick and a Promise

I am sure you have heard that saying before…a lick and a promise. Our dear housekeeper is overwhelmed with the number of rooms she must service each day, but she cleans with a lick and a promise. I tidy up the room before her usual knock on the door just before noon. While I know she cleans the bathroom the tub stills holds tightly unto the ‘ring’ of soap scum.

She has never once dusted any piece of furniture and only mopped the kitchen floor once during our stay.

She is very friendly, changes the linens, and vacuums. She leaves us plenty of TP, which is a good thing. But her overall cleaning is a lick and a promise.

The dictionary explains the idiom as meaning…superficial effort done without care or enthusiasm. The saying dates way back to 1800’s probably referring to the way a cat may give a quick lick with the idea to came back later and do a more thorough job.

I was thinking that sometimes perhaps my prayer life is nothing more than a ‘lick and a promise’. I go through the prayer motions. I say the appropriate prayers for the day, but is my whole heart in the right place?

Is there something more I should be doing? Should I be praying for a longer time? Should I be spending more of my prayer time in silence? Maybe I am using too many words.

Yesterday after receiving Eucharist I was drawn to really focus on his presence within me. I noticed the woman next to me was wiping tears from her cheeks. My thoughts turned to her for a moment. She was attending Mass alone. What was causing her to cry? I felt urged to say a little prayer for her. At the end of Mass I told her to have a blessed week. We smiled at each other and went our separate ways.

This week, with the canonization of seven new Saints, I have been examining my life more closely. Each of those individuals recently canonized led very ordinary lives. At some point in each of their lives they became more dedicated to doing the work of the Lord.

How does this transformation take place in one’s life if your prayer life is merely ‘a lick and a promise’?

There is a gift in going to a different parish each Sunday. It is exhilarating to join so many faithful in attending Mass. To feel a part of a greater community of believers that is so much larger than our community at home. To see people from every walk of life and every age sharing the Eucharist together is inspiring.

Each Sunday I look forward to the music that we will sing during the Mass. Many times we sing familiar hymns, but about half the time we sing hymns that are new to me. I find the new music truly enhances my participation.

I think maybe I am enriching my prayer life, even though I may not feel it.

I am expanding my prayer circle beyond those I know well at our home parish. It is different to pray for those anonymous persons. It is different to pray for someone you probably will not see again even if we do return to the same church.

There is no sense of real community except that we are all Catholic.

A Lick and a Promise is only about the surface…the top layer…the most obvious.

I want to have a prayer life with a much deeper meaning…a deeper commitment…I do not want my prayer life to be limited to the obvious.

We should all be striving for a deeper more committed relationship with the Lord.

Did I really have to leave the comforts of my home parish to make this discovery?

God deserves way more than a ‘lick and a promise’…

He deserves the best that I have to offer.


The Ironing Board

I have a question for you. Do you ever iron?

I must admit there are not too many things I iron today.

With the advent of permanent press and wash ‘n wear who needs to iron?

I have noticed that most every hotel room includes an iron and ironing board. Just what you want to do while on vacation….iron. Well our little hotel room does indeed have the iron and the accompanying board.

As I have said before when you are living simple it tends to make you look at all things from a different perspective. As a writer I spend a great deal of time typing on the computer. I was scanning the room; where could I most comfortably set up the computer?

Suddenly it occurred to me that the ironing board would make the almost perfect desk. It was portable. It already had a dedicated space in the room. It was adjustable to various heights. Who could ask for more?

I could carefully maneuver it on either side of the bed so that I could sit on the edge of the bed and type. I could place it near the window. Now we have a lovely young tree outside our window.    I could even raise it up so that I could stand up and type. Wow! Such versatility from something as  mundane as an ironing board.

Typically I would have never paid any attention to the ironing board neatly tucked in the closet. But when you have few things creativity can be a breath of fresh air. I think there is some saying about invention coming out of necessity. I am sure you are familiar with the saying.

Oh, there was also a plug nearby so I could get power to the computer. A source of power is a useful thing to have nearby.

It reminds me that God wants us to use what we have. It would be easier to look at what you do not have to make excuses. We have a creative God and he has passed on to us the ability to tap into this fountain of creativity.

It is quiet in our little room and there are few distractions. Distractions can hamper our desire to really look at our environment. Distractions keep us preoccupied. Distractions divert our attention to our immediate surroundings. Distractions lure us to look everywhere except the immediate area.

In our prayer life distractions keep us from praying as best we can. How easy it is to put our prayer life even below these distractions.

I invite you to look around and find something in your immediate environment that you have previously taken for granted. As you look at this object ask yourself how you can bring it into your prayer life.

Maybe it is something as insignificant as the television control. How could you use that creatively in prayer? Perhaps it could remind you that changing you have the ability to change your attitude. Perhaps it could remind you about how God is present through the many different genres of your life from news and drama to comedy and cooking.


The ironing board served as my desk….something useful and mundane. The ironing board reminded me too that my prayer life needs to be kept fresh through various changes. It is so comfortable to get into mindless routines even when it comes to prayer. We go through the motions on auto pilot. I cannot function on auto pilot at this time in my life. There is nothing about my current situation that would fit into my previous thoughtless ‘auto pilot’ life.