November 5, 2017

Finding Holy Ground: Work


Over this series we’ve been contemplating how to identify Holy Ground in all sorts of ways. We pondered how our senses help us find that Holy Ground. We looked at the Holy Ground within ourselves and those around us. Have you been able to look for, and see, Holy Ground more readily over the past couple of months?

Many of us spend much of our time involved in work of some sort. Do you find it difficult to think of the daily work as Holy Ground? It is easy to get so involved in doing or finishing a project that we don’t take time to look for God’s presence in what we are doing. We can also compartmentalize our lives into ‘work for money’ and ‘work for God’. The Theology of Work Project focuses on pointing out the truth that everything we do in life is ‘work for God’. It may be sweeping a floor or running a multi-billion-dollar corporation. Everything we do, as we live, is part of bringing the Kingdom of God into existence

Some days we do it better than others. I don’t know about you, but often I get focused on the task at hand and can easily resent an interruption in the form of a phone call or someone coming into the office. I have to remind myself that as Br. David Vryhof of the Society of St. John, Evangelist says, “Interruptions are not always obstacles; sometimes they are opportunities. If we fail to recognize them, we will miss the experiences of grace that are hidden in them.” There is a good chance that God is showing up in the form of that person on the other end of the phone or standing in front of you, disguised as a coworker or visitor.

When I do take time for what is happening around me, I discover that I generally have enough time to finish my work, even with the ‘interruptions’. I also realize that I have been enriched and even blessed by the people I interact with. When I stop and refocus and remind myself that each thing I do is a Kingdom action, even mundane tasks do feel more fulfilling.

It might be self-affirming to check off all the items on the daily to-do list, but it is much more important to be present to the opportunity to welcome God. Henri Nouwen (In the Name of Jesus, 1989) suggests that we need to be “people with an ardent desire to dwell in God's presence, to listen to God's voice, to look at God's beauty, to touch God's incarnate Word and to taste fully God's infinite goodness.” We can only do that when we are open to the interruptions to our plans.

It is gratifying to get a lot of work done and be recognized as a ‘good’ or ‘dedicated’ worker. Again, it is the Brothers at the Society of St. John, Evangelist who remind us, “We should not seek external reward for service to God and to others because we could easily be distracted from the true reward. The greater satisfaction, the greater gratification, the greater reward is God. God promised to be with us always; God promised to abide in us as we abide in God.” (Br. Mark Brown)

This week, I’m going to try to be more aware of God’s interruptions to my daily routine. As Mrs. Brown Sparrow says, in one of my all-time favorite children’s stories, The Contented Little Pussycat, “There are so many things to trouble a body.” I would add, there are many, many things to keep us busy. The Contented Little Pussycat responds, after much thought, that he is contented because he ‘never worries about what might happen tomorrow’ or what happened yesterday. To be contented, this wise kitten lives in the Now.

Since ‘now’ is all we really have, we would be well advised to follow his advice and live this second and then the next. There’s a Christian song by Steven Curtis Chapman that says all we have is ‘right now’, and we should live The Next 5 Minutes like it’s our ‘last 5 minutes’ .

Being aware of God in and through us in 5 minutes segments might be a start to discovering that we are on God’s Holy Ground even in the middle of our ‘working’ life. What might you do this week to live in the present, the now, and take living 5 minutes at a time? 

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