From Doing to Being

by Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan, Visitation Alumna

What do you do? What do you want to do? What do you want to be when you grow up? What will you do next? As a culture we are conditioned from a young age that we value productivity, accomplishment, doers. This is all good and well until we lose our center, until we can no longer find our calm, and our days become a blur instead of intentions. We are conditioned to define ourselves by our professions instead of by our character. I want us to take the time this week to consider how much of our days, our selves, our being is wrapped up in our doing?

“Now as they went on their way, he [Jesus] entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42).

Do we take time to slow down and let our business and busy-ness fall away? Or do we clutch to it to keep our mind from settling? Do we take the time when we feel rushed and hurried to stop even for a moment to connect to our breath–our way of being alive at our core? Or do we find that we have hurried through our day only to no longer see who is before us? Who is within us?

When Jesus was asked, “What do you do Lord?” He replied, “Come and see.” Jesus invited his friends into being with him, into relationship, into taking the time to witness, participate, and stay with him to learn. Do we invite others into our way of being? Are we open to seeing and living their way of being when invited? Do we make the time for this? As we consider our vocations, our way of being in the world, may we consider if it is a true way of being, or solely a source of doing? How do we strike this holy balance? St. Francis de Sales wisdom comes into play here, he said, “The soul which holds itself ready and open to do God’s will on any occasion, can do this even while sweeping the floor.” Again, it is a way of being while we are engaged in our doing.

The Sisters intentionally build time to be into their day with the punctuation of praying the offices. It keeps a balance and anchor

Artist Brother Mickey ONeill McGrath

Artist Brother Mickey O'Neill McGrath

to their doing. As a mother, I often fall into the Martha-ness of my days, and long to be reminded on these days that it is Mary’s way that builds, keeps, and holds memories. My husband, Peter is great at this, the tasks can fall away in place of some fun. I foolishly need to be reminded often that the tasks fall away in a day or so, but the conversations, the being with another, lingers, lasts, holds steady. Now with our fourth baby on his/her way in April, I find my multi-tasking ways sloughing off because for some reason this pregnancy I can no longer hold two thoughts and do more than one thing well. As my frustration with this melts away, I recognize the gift, I am being invited into a deeper awareness of being. Instead of resistance may I embrace it, instead of doing may I learn at a deeper level how to be, and instead of clinging to old habits may I embrace this new invitation!

Amen.

3 Responses

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  1. dear beth, it is in your doing that you are being….just the other day in your doing act of keeping me and us informed of mari’s health update you were being a good friend, you were being a communicator and you were showing the care and compassion of Jesus as it just flows out of your being….the tears as you spoke of Mari’s situation were not just the tears of a mother they were also the tears of our loving father for all the little ones. just keep on doing and being who you are as god’s gift in our world. peace, sr. suzanne

  2. thanks Sister Suzanne, and yes doing and being are so intimately connected. But I really feel the need to slow way down from the pace I have been keeping…perhaps it’s the invitation of the snow, to hibernate, to go slow. Regardless I’m really starting to welcome it. Keep Mairi in the prayers still she was back in the hospital last night for more hydration and is home again today. Poor little girl and now a few others in the family are sick with it, poor Brigid!:)
    peace & gratitude,
    b

  3. What a joy it is, a wonderful reminder, to read this entry. And then to read the comments and know that Beth, you did stop, and you were Mary for me and Mairi in the hospital last week. You’ll never know how much your time, companionship, and prayers mean to me. It’s hard to slow down enough to be in the moment as much as we want to be, but reminders like this and like the illness of a child put things in perspective and give us new opportunities!

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