Day 14: “Do What You Are Doing”
BY MICHAEL DOWNS | March 7, 2023
The water bottle in front of me now has a sticker with the old Ignatian motto, age quod agis: “Do what you are doing.”
As I recover from a concussion, this has been a healthy reminder. My doctor insisted on no multitasking or screentime. In this age of information, he asserted, all of us are taking in an unnatural amount of mental stimuli. This is especially concerning for young people whose brains, summoned in myriad directions, are still developing. But in the midst of the chaos of information overload, we still have a choice about where we put our attention.
I look back at my water bottle. “Do what you are doing.”
It’s reusable, not plastic, thanks to the challenge of my students for me to practice what I preach. As an environmental educator, I know students are demanding more climate education, but teachers are undertrained.
But in the midst of climate chaos, we have a choice to live simply, and perhaps, if Pope Francis is right, better.
In reality, those who enjoy more and live better each moment are those who have given up dipping here and there, always on the look-out for what they do not have. They experience what it means to appreciate each person and each thing, learning familiarity with the simplest things and how to enjoy them. (Laudato Si, 223)
Today’s gospel passage is a call, for me, to mental and material simplification, and a challenge for teachers and parents to practice what we preach. An invitation to focus on what matters most: the Word of Love from the one Teacher and Parent of us all. No frills.
- What am I focused on this Lent?
- Are my practices, not just my words, manifesting ecological conversion and creative simplicity?
Michael Downs serves as director of justice and kinship at Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland. He is also a member of the California Catholic Conference’s Environmental Stewardship Committee and the Vatican’s Laudato Si’ Action Platform Working Group.
Understanding who God is. You can not develop a relationship with someone, unless you know him. I have started giving money to the homeless that I meet at intersections, regardless of how they are going to use the money. Found out recently that there is a statistic that 90% of panhandlers do not use the money for booze. Would Jesus have said, I cannot give you anything, because i know that you are just going to do xx with the money, probably not.
Thanks for this, Michael. I have adopted this same mindset for several years now. I rarely carry cash anymore but, I do stash $5 bills in my car simply for this reason..to give to those that need it most. Who am I to judge what people do with the money? If I give it, I give it freely..no strings attached. I also ask them their name and tell them that I will pray for them. I ask them to pray for me too. A smile and a wave and we part ways for a moment. They have enhanced my day and hopefully I have done the same for them. God is good!
Beautiful reflection! No frills – reminds me to stick with what’s basic – God’s everlasting mercy and love. It doesn’t get better than that!
Living in the moment is where it’s at. It can be so hard not to live for the next event and to just experience the exact thing I am doing. But there is so much peace there.
During the Lenten season and beyond, my goal is to become more present and more involved in the church through community service. To be more present with my family and friends and not be a hermit, confined to my house. My over attitude is if you cannot think of a thing to do, be KIND.
Lent is a good time to give voice to the voiceless.