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Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Amazing Grace of...

Labor

Long after the thaw, I stay tuned to the grace of physical labor. Bending and rising to hang laundry on the line, kneeling to scrub yellow pollen off the back porch, hauling bales of fragrant hay up the steps to the loft, raking the chicken pens and gathering the eggs: this work gives me life.”
Barbara Brown Taylor (An Altar in the World)

I wonder whether you are a person who loves the physicality of doing your own work. Most of us live for the day we make enough money to pay someone else to do it for us. I don't understand why, but I love to work. I love doing the laundry, putting clean sheets on the bed, sweeping the wooden floors, and picking up limbs that have fallen in the yard. There are things that common sense dictates I should not do now—almost anything that involves getting up on a ladder—and I feel the loss of those options. Labor is life. It keeps me strong and fills my days with purpose. When I feel down and lonely, I go in the kitchen and cook up something delicious, and go to some lengths to make a pretty plate. Yesterday, I found jonquils and hyacinths blooming in the yard to decorate my table.

Work, especially physical labor, keeps us tethered to the life of the body. Our muscles and lungs and heart are strengthened by bending and reaching, climbing stairs, carrying groceries and laundry baskets. By all means, go to the gym, but also know that the labor we do on a daily basis may be the very thing that saves our life. Caring for our living space, regardless of how humble it may be, is an act of love and gratitude—also good for the heart.

Barbara Brown Taylor writes: “There is no substitute for earthiness. From dust we came and to dust we shall return. The good news is that most of us get some good years in between, during which we may sink our hands in the dirt.” (An Altar in the World) We have the option these days of being connected only via cyber space, and that lack of physical connection is showing up in our health and in our relationship to the planet. Putting our hands into warm water to wash dishes, digging in dirt to plant a tomato or a flower, spreading mulch, hauling limbs and raking leaves, keep us firmly planted in Mother Earth. Work is the vehicle for this connection. We are the appointed stewards, after all. Let labor lift us to higher ground and better health. It is not beneath us, it is grace from above.

                                        In the Spirit,

                                            Jane

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