Monday, November 23, 2009

The Work We Choose

“This is not how I want to be spending my day”, was the thought that entered my head as I pulled my van into a parking spot for the 15th time in one day. I felt that I had been hauling people around, getting in and out of the car, entering and leaving buildings, looking down hallways for people, dropping off and picking up all day long. But almost immediately another voice said, “You chose this work, and it is important.”

It is true. I did choose this life. Thirteen years ago, I was a young family physician. It was something that I was good at, but it never brought me joy. Actually, it brought me a lot of stress and anxiety. When our first child was born, I made the decision to stay home full time and let my license and my certification lapse. Except for my ministry of spiritual direction, I have not worked outside of the home since.

If I stop to think about what I “do” at all, it tends to be in terms of how mundane the things in my life can be, of how much time seems to be tied up in things that, on the surface, seem unimportant. Shopping, driving my kids to school, paying the bills, cleaning the house.

In her book, Seven Sacred Pauses, Macrina Wiederkehr says, “When we begin our day, most of us probably do not approach our work with the awareness and belief that we are artists involved in continuing the work of creation. From the most sublime to the most menial, work is creativity.”

Years ago, I had a friend who said to me, “I don’t see any eternal value in cleaning my house.” Even at that stage of my journey, I had a glimpse that all things have eternal “value” when done with mindfulness, care and love. And yet, now, these many years later, it didn't seem to apply to just driving around town all day. (Actually, I’m still having a bit of hard time with it, even though I believe it to be true.)

So, as I begin yet another day, I set the intention that wiping the counter, feeding the dog, or sweeping out the garage is all my work. It is my good work. It is also my prayer and in some crazy, mystical sense, it is my offering to the creation of the world.

May all of your work be wonderfully creative this day!

10 comments:

Roy said...

Orare est laborare. Laborare est Orare. To pray is to work. To work is to pray. A Benedictine practice you are employing, Rebecca. It will always be a struggle to find that balance, that spark, in the mundane, in our responsibilities in this world. There will always be tension between the opposites... unless of course all we do, say, and think, becomes an act of love for the glory of the source of that love.

I struggle with you, sister. Let's join hands and pray, to you, O Lord, we dedicate the work of our hands. Amen.

Jennifer said...

I found your blog via: The Whole Blooming World and I am enjoying your thoughts very much. I can relate to this particular post very much.

I struggle to see eternal value in my daily activities and have found myself in the whining and complaining category. I am learning a great deal about myself in my recent acute awareness of this internal resistance to the goings on of life and I hope to GROW into JOY in these aspects having been made MORE aware of my personal resistances to them.

The Pollinatrix said...

Oh boy, do I know what you mean about driving around! I actually do usually have a handle on housework as having eternal value, but driving around in traffic just drives me nuts! Especially when it's errand-running, to pay bills or other irritating "time-wasters."

The other day I was out doing laundry with my son. I had my big orderly plan all in place: While the clothes are washing, go pay this bill; while they're drying, go to the library. My daughter called right after I'd put the clothes in and needed a ride somewhere, which meant I had to change all my plans, get out into traffic, etc. I was irritated and expressing it after I got off the phone. Grumbling about always having to deal with interruptions and delays. My wonderful, wise 12-year-old son calmly says, "That's just life, Mom. It's no big deal."

Of course, he's not the one doing the driving :)

The Pollinatrix said...

Oh, also, thanks for that blessing!

I'm going to a meeting shortly to see if the university wants to hire me to write grants for them, and I'm quite nervous. So making my work "wonderfully creative" is a very good focus for me today.

Rebecca Johnson said...

Roy, It is all wrapped up in my judgments, what is good and what is bad. What is important and what is a waste of time. As I become aware of these judgments, they become less powerful. Thanks for joining hands with me. We are going somewhere, I think. Don't you?

Love...

Rebecca Johnson said...

Jennifer, As I read your post, I am reminded of feeling that "internal resistance" as I pulled my car into that parking place. That something inside us that tells us that we are in the wrong place at the wrong time and this can't possibly be what the universe had in mind for me when It placed me here. But, if we don't resist the MOMENT, joy has an opportunity to blossom no matter what we are "doing".

Thanks so much for stopping in and I hope to see you back. I went over and perused your site. I love what you have under your title. Especially "unresisted thoughts" (reminds me of what Pollinatrix is blogging about these days) and "MOST ASSUREDLY". No matter how unpredictable life can be, there are things in my life that I am "most assured" of. : )

Love...

Rebecca Johnson said...

Polli, That's partly why we post so that people can say, "I know!" What I read in your post above is how you wanted to be very efficient and not "waste" time. I am very much that way. But what is "wasting" time, really?

I have heard you quote your son and your daughter previously. We are so blessed to have these backseat gurus in our life. : )

Love....

The Pollinatrix said...

I was just thinking about this post and my response to it as I was stuck in a driving ordeal, yet again. I found myself EXTREMELY inefficiently backtracking and circling trying to get things done and people dropped off and picked up.

What often happens on the road that makes it all worse is that I realize I'm really hungry or thirsty and have nothing on hand to fix that problem. I really need to pay more attention to that.

The Pollinatrix said...

Oh - and to answer your question - wasting time for me can be defined as feeling miserable and trapped, which is precisely how I feel when I find myself in a driving ordeal. Or any kind of chaos, really. Or distractions and interruptions.

It's stuff like this that makes me how much spiritual work I still have to do!

Abbey of the Arts said...

Rebecca, I love this post - you express the beauty of the most ordinary moments tended to with care and attention- and the struggle to see these as meaningful, perhaps the most meaningful acts we can perform in a life. Thanks too for your beautiful haiku left at my Poetry Party. Thanksgiving blessings to you.