Countless self-help books and articles provide us with handy tips for how to be more productive in our work - how to do and achieve more. We're told how to structure our time, how to create schedules, and maybe how uplifting it can be to create lists - if only to know the satisfaction of crossing things off it! There are helpful suggestions about breaking large tasks down into smaller, easily achievable ones - again, giving us a shot of triumph and satisfaction once each has been completed. Naturally, we need to tidy our desks - and, increasingly, all the files in our PCs - and keep them so. We also need to learn how to say 'no', how to delegate, and create boundaries... whilst simultaneously being helpful and pleasant to all those people who might one day give us a helping hand in return.
But today we are offered something different. Today's saint, Scholastica, rather famously prayed and got God to give her her own way over what her twin brother Benedict wanted. Recounting this, Gregory the Great comments It is not surprising that she was more effective than he, since as John says, God is love. It was absolutely right that she could do more, as she loved more.
Reading that story I was reminded of some words of advice from that great RSCJ Janet Erskine Stuart: The way to do much in a short time is to love much. People will do great things if they are stirred with enthusiasm and love.
So if we love we will be effective... but probably not efficient. Yes, we will do more, but love doesn't spend too much time writing lists or tidying files. Love can say 'no', when 'no' is the most loving, helpful response; but love also knows when schedules need to be set aside in favour of listening, consoling, loving and loving more.
And, of course, love can make a huge difference; it is effective, productive and can achieve so much. Love can heal, transform and give both the lover and loved one energy and renewed life and hope... but a loving, kind person rarely finds out this side of heaven just what and how much they have done, or how many lives have been transformed in consequence. Often we love only in hope, and faith in love's power. But not knowing its effects is no reason not to love, of course; to open our arms and hearts and love more, and more, and more again.