My favorite twenty minutes of each day is when I get to help John Michael eat. He can’t do it on his own, and even with help, he can’t do it quickly. It takes time and concentration on both of our parts. It’s a dance.
This is almost the only part of my day where anything holds my undivided focus. Every other piece of time is split into a thousand glittering shards, all demanding my attention. I’m thinking about the paperwork I have to do. I’m thinking about what might be happening on my phone. I’m thinking about what my coworkers are and aren’t doing, and how they’re perceiving what I am and am not doing.
But for twenty minutes at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it’s just John Michael and the spoon that transports the puréed meal between us. There is a deep peace in those moments I don’t know at any other time.
This peace is John Michael’s gift: That he has given me a clear and undivided purpose for at least one small portion of my life. He has given me a task worth doing at the expense of all others. If, as Soren Kierkegaard says, purity of heart is to want one thing, then there is another purity to be found in doing one thing, and one thing only.
The name for this purity, the name for this peace is Vocation, and I’ve sought it my whole life with varying degrees of success. I’ve found it manifest in many places and at many times, but never as simply or strong as in the twenty minutes I spend bringing the spoon full of porridge from the bowl to John Michael’s lips.
The twenty minutes is over. The bowl is empty. John Michael is fed, and in a different sense so am I. I thank God who gives us this day our daily bread, and that by which we live which is not bread, and I return to my distractions.