05 March 2012

Lent List 2 ~ Hands, Work, Prayer

I work with my hands, my mind and spirit. I use simple machines and tools to do simple labor intensive tasks.
I work with people who choose not to do what I’m hired to do. My business is doing their task. My product is a tended yard and grounds. I hope to create a simple pleasure. It requires outdoor care and where most care not to go.
I make decisions and choices with my work. My choices reflect problems. At any moment I face setbacks and obstacles, which feel, and often really are, arbitrary. I cannot control setbacks. I give a maximum accountability. I may not be called back.
My business is based entirely upon labor, persistence, trust, and visible results. My income and sustainability depend on being called back. Sustainability requires I don’t back away from tasks; actions and results are visible; my work is not hidden. My work is committed; I cannot undo my actions. If tasks are unfinished, without accountability, I lose credibility. I corrode trust and sustainability.
My work and business is spiritual. Our culture does not emphasize spiritual labor. St. Benedict of Nursia says, in his Rule, to work is to pray. In the 5th and 6th century work was manual labor, the work of the hands. In the monastic setting labor is in a lessor silence. I work in silence; I wear ear protection to block noise. I like it; it was an unexpected surprise. I’m less distracted, more concentrated in the task. It facilitates thinking, imagination, and prayer. I too say when I work I pray.
After awhile I rest, take off the protectors, and being outdoors, at times, I’m filled with a gentle euphoria and deep thanksgiving; most times I'm just tired. This is integration of hands, work, and prayer, manifested by the spirit.

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