Thursday, August 29, 2019
LABOR OF LOVE
Dear All of Us,
Labor Day's here!
It's back to work and school.
Speaking of work, let's.
Work is the setting,
really the center piece,
of our days.
It's the major span of our spiritual lives.
How do we do with that?
Is work a burden or a blessing?
Do we delight in it or do all we can to dodge it?
Is it a contemplative time,
a time of aware oneness with God?
How we do with work
is how we do with our spiritual lives.
Good old St. Benedict pegged it just right:
"Laborare est orare"
"To work is to pray".
Prayer is oneness with God.
So is work.
"God is love,"
and in that love
God is working out
the magnificence of creation,
and we're in on it as co-creators
through our work prayer,
our labor of love.
So ok, what's this work prayer, this labor of love,
look like out here on the street of everyday living?
It means that everything we do,
we do in and with God's love.
It means that everything we do
is a moment and motion of God's work,
of God's evolving creation forward and fuller,
and we are actively part of it
through our Labor of Love.
Everything means everything:
doing the dishes, plowing a field, sorting the laundry,
investing our client's funds carefully,
dealing with commuter traffic on our way to work,
teaching class, delivering the mail,
developing a better program and product,
improving our company's service delivery,
working the line with vigor and attention,
pleasantly checking out our customers at the store,
washing the car, cooking dinner,
mounting a principled political campaign,
humanely screening passengers through the TSA process,
stringing line, reporting the news,
painting a picture or the house,
installing internet connection, changing diapers -
Work prayer is our part in the rollout of Reality.
Work Prayer is the joy of creativity in concert with the Creator.
It is a labor of love.
However, that rollout can be pretty rough at times -
working with a nasty boss,
being pressured by capitalistic greed
to rush and work excessive hours,
company preference for profit over product
and the people making the product,
horrible working conditions, lazy co-workers.
Then there's things like removing that tree stump
and it resists you right into frustration and pain,
the truck that keeps breaking down,
the back ache from all that heavy lifting.
Well it seems that from the get go of creation
has thrown sand in the gears.
Rather than work with God
we people have tried to play God.
We just aren't up to it
and that causes all sorts of discord, pain and chaos.
That discord, pain and chaos
filter into human relations and into nature,
polluting, distressing and disturbing both.
Sad examples: the cremation of the Amazon rain forests
the white nationalist movement.
The Genesis Story of Adam and Eve
attempting to be "like unto God"
and its sad consequences (Genesis 3)
is a simple folk way
of telling the tale
of that spin out right from our start.
So work is both a joy and a pain.
In both and all cases, though,
it can be prayer,
a holy, sacred experience,
a "Oneing" with God,
a divinely creative sharing,
a Labor of Love.
We go it with God
as God goes it with us,
bringing order to chaos,
harmony to dissonance,
rolling out an ever more expansive
and divine creation,
be it a diaper changed,
a transmission repaired,
a corn field harvested,
or a symphony composed.
I learned that as a boy from Crainie.
She was a warm, happy, vigorous farmer.
She was so matter-of-factly and genuinely spiritual.
She and God did everything together.
Milking cows, tending the garden,
churning butter, making bread,
canning, collecting eggs,
were delightfully unitive,
creative encounters with the Creator,
moments of marvel.
Mucking the barn wasn't a whole lot of fun,
but it cleared things for healthy, fresh growth.
Crainie worked with a playfulness,
be that work easy or hard,
and had one heck of a sense of humor.
While milking the cow
she turned an utter my way,
squirted my face and laughed:
"Have some fresh milk!"
I not only "learned" about work
as prayer from her,
I got to taste its good fruits as well,
treated to the best ever home made bread
covered with farm fresh-just-churned butter
and topped off with jam from the garden raspberry bushes.
"Taste and see the goodness of the Lord" for sure!!
Years later I learned yet more about our labor of love
from dear old Brother John at the seminary.
This simple lay brother was an artist in all he did.
With God he created goodness and beauty
in the most mundane and practical ways.
Watching him fold laundry, repair a window, prune a bush
was to see and sense a contemplative oneness with God,
a oneness at work furthering order and creative evolution
in humble, immediate ways.
Jake showed me how to go about a labor of love
under stress, while in danger.
He was on our local fire department.
With disciplined skill and self giving
he entered burning buildings to rescue people.
He climbed ladders against burning walls
to reorder the flaming energy
that had become destructive.
Like Crainie, Brother John and Jake,
be it easy or hard, big ways or little ways,
we get to team up with God
and be part of creations marvelous evolution.
It sure is a
LABOR OF LOVE.
Here are a few prayer prompts as we reflect on our labor days:
- If our goal is to make a lot of money, we are working for a false god.
If we are working in tandem with creation's evolution
we are co-creators with God.
- "Whatever you do,
work at it with all your heart,
as working for the Lord,
not for human masters."
- "Americans live to work.
Italians work to live."
("A Year In Italy" - DVD)
- "In life's work, bliss and sacrifice
are two sides of the same coin,
- "One's true work is never merely 'my work,'
but humanity's work.
It's not really self-expression,
unless by 'self' we mean it with a capital S,
and that self is the self within mankind."
- "Where your talents
and the needs of the world cross,
there lies your vocation."
This Labor Day and all the days of our labor
"Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and prosper the work of our hands...",
LABOR OF LOVE.
See you next week.
(Psalm 34:8 and Psalm 90:17 above)
"frankly speaking" spirituality for the street is posted online
east coast USA time.
at 5:56 PM