The wisdom of chocolate

I’ve always been told that God speaks to us in many ways besides prayer and Scripture if we but have the sense to recognize him. I never expected him to speak to me through chocolate.

Earlier this month, I reserved The Ignatius Room at our parish center for a private day of reflection. Before I headed up there, I stopped at the office to sign in, and helped myself to a couple squares of chocolate from the candy dish that’s always full of goodies.

Enjoying a peaceful day of reflection.

Displaying a remarkable sense of self-control, I waited to open them until I had settled into the comfy chair in the reflection room.  Just as I was about to roll the first wrapper into a ball and toss it into the waste basket, I noticed there was writing on the inside.

“Create a happy place,” it said.

Cute, I thought. And then I thought again. A happy place is what I had created for myself that day by giving myself time just to think and to be. Then, I’d be going home–which I also need to turn into a happy place. Or perhaps, more than happy, it should be a joyful place, a place of peace and love, patience and harmony.

I can create a happy place at work, too.

My work station in the newspaper mail room.

Or perhaps more correctly, a happy space. Even if the rest of the workplace is full of tension, snide remarks, unhappiness or whining, I can CHOOSE to make MY space in that workplace a little oasis of serenity. Then maybe, just maybe, some of it will leak out and contaminate others’ spaces with a little peace and contentment.

So, how do I do that? The second candy wrapper  suggested one answer: “Love what you do.” Sometimes that just comes naturally, when what I do is already something I love–like writing, or sewing, or walking my dog. But sometimes loving what I do has to be a choice, like when I’m cleaning the toilet at home, or ironing (which I find extremely tedious). Then, I have to remind myself why I’m doing it, or whom I’m doing it for.

Ironing, cleaning, all those daily household chores are for myself and for my husband, to create a neat, orderly “nest” where we can live, love and relax.

Stuffing advertising inserts into the newspaper at work (my part-time job as a retired person) requires very little thought, but gives me the chance to chat with co-workers and, very often, to lend a listening ear

Fellow workers--some of them--in the newspaper mail room.

as they confide about the angst in their lives. I try NOT to contribute to the I-hate-my-job, life-is-pointless remarks that sometimes get bandied about. And, the job gets me out of the house early enough to see sunrises much of the year.

For me, loving what I do and where I am is part of my Catholic faith. It’s where God has placed me, it’s the raw material I’ve been given to cooperate with him in touching lives for good–even in those small ways.

I’m reminded of the importance of those seemingly ordinary things when I reflect on Scripture or read inspirational books, but I surely never expected to have it reinforced through a couple pieces of chocolate. Good thing I indulged!


About Monica Sawyn

I'm a retired newspaper reporter/columnist, and although I still freelance, I miss the weekly column I used to write. I still "see columns" in everyday life and need a place to put them after they're written--thus, this blog. I'm Catholic, have been a Benedictine oblate since 1977, and live with my husband and our beagle in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. When I'm not writing, I'm probably reading, sewing, taking photos or walking the dog.
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2 Responses to The wisdom of chocolate

  1. Denise says:

    This came at a time in my life when I really, really needed to hear this! Thanks, Monica. I’ll try to practice the same. It just takes one person at a time to eventually make a great big difference!

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