Work heartily as for the Lord

Originally Appeared in : 9916-8/1/19

My Uncle Steve once gave my dad a coffee cup inscribed with Murphy’s Law...upside down. To a young boy, it took me a minute to understand why putting “If anything can go wrong, it will” upside down on a mug was funny but it obviously left an indelible mark.


Jesse isn’t familiar with Murphy’s Law, or the fact that our washing machine top was constructed with a slight slope and, therefore, isn’t the best place to temporarily store vessels filled with fluid.


Everyone’s morning routine was interrupted when a loud crash was heard from the laundry room. A houseful of Halcombes came sprinting toward the sound but halted at the threshold of the kitchen when they spotted the shimmer of an entire bottle of Swiffer cleaning fluid covering the floor like a puddle after a strong thunderstorm.


Magan peaked around the corner to also find a black handle and a pile of tempered glass that was once our coffee pot, along with my half-broken water bottle, on the laundry room floor.


My morning calisthenics routine had left me oblivious to all of the excitement until I walked back through the door to find liquid still lining the grout lines of our kitchen floor, and a sour-faced Magan ready to deliver the sad news of the unexpected demise of our 12-cup coffee pot.


“What makes me so mad is he just up and left everything on the top of the washer half done and went to Swiffer the floor,” Magan said. “Then he used up an entire bottle of fluid. I don’t have a clue why, and neither does he.”


Similar to that cup my Uncle Steve gave my dad, the R&D department for our washer must have thought it cute to design a lid that appeared, at first, to be flat but actually had a slow grade that was perfect for turning bags of chips into bags of crumbs. Or, in this case, turning our coffee pot into shards of foot shrapnel.


A few minutes after I was apprised of the situation, I heard Magan in the dining room saying, “Our coffee maker costs around $30-40, but that’s not the point. Go put your piggy bank up.”


I followed the sound of jingling coins in the plastic belly of Jesse’s swine to find him self-punishing with a buried head in his pillow on top of his mother’s dismissal to his room. 


“I’m sorry I broke your coffee pot and your water bottle,” he said, the first of his tears cresting off his cheek atop the top bunk toward my forehead.


“Come down here,” I said. “What you need to understand Jesse is we’re not upset that something broke. Accidents happen. What we’re upset about is the fact that you left something half done, and unattended to go do what you wanted to do. Your inattentiveness to seeing something through to completion is ultimately what caused everything to break. I’m disappointed with your inattentiveness.”


That night we realized nobody had gone to town to purchase a replacement pot, so a Pyrex meatloaf pan, propped up by a collection of rainbow children’s cups, had to suffice to collect the caffeinated dew needed to give Magan and me our get-up-and-go for the day.


Jesse apologized again, once again offering to pay to replace the broken items. Seeing his contrition, I told him it was okay and just to be more mindful when he does his chores in the future.


Inattentiveness is easy to fall prey to as we try to make it through the hurried nature of the world, especially for parents. While Jesse’s inattentiveness may have cost us a coffee pot, our lack of focus and attention on rearing our children as mindful Catholics can lead to far greater consequences than life without coffee (Although one grandparent may jokingly agree to disagree).


One of my favorite all time verses comes from Paul’s Letter to the Colossians. The simple verse reads, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men” (Colossians 3:23).


The verse has a myriad of interpretations but, at its core, it’s calling us all to mindfulness in all we do and that all we do should be done to glorify God. If Jesse had been attentive to his chores as though he were prepping a cup of Joe for the Almighty, then we might not have had to drink coffee from a meatloaf pan.


As parents, we must work heartily for God to teach our children that while anything that can go wrong will, it can also be made right through a healthy relationship with God.

In the meantime, nobody give Jesse a replica of dad’s cup or we’ll have another mess on our hands, and right now we’re all out of Swiffer fluid.


Jason Halcombe has five sons and two daughters. He and his wife, Magan, are members of Immaculate Conception Church, Dublin.

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