Labour Day marks a shift for most people who gear up to return to school and/or work. Committees and board meetings are scheduled. Sports, dance, and other activities start the driving frenzy for most parents. Life is about to get busy after the dog days of summer. What about for those of us who have a different life style because of illness?
My life has been altered significantly by cancer at this juncture. I have always had a full life. Work and play have been mostly balanced–rest not so much. Now, I have slowly stepped off every board that I have sat on and whittled down my extra-curricular activities to a minimum. Psalm 90 asks the Lord to give success to the work of our hands but tonight reflecting on the work that I do it is with my heart. My visits to the federal penitentiary, the spiritual direction, and the visiting with family and friends is a ministry of presence, of caring, of listening. These are ministries of the heart, not the head or hands.
After my work farewell party, a colleague who is a dear friend took me home. I had held it together fairly well at the dinner and through the speeches. The full reality happened sitting in the truck as we pulled up to my place. I could not imagine life without work at that particular juncture. The identity crisis loomed–who was I without my career? I had a good rant, and my friend gave me the gift of his attentive spirit and heart. He let me spew it all out before I circled back and concluded that I had always been more than my work anyway. Our eyes met and he smiled that wonderful knowing smile he has, pleased that he had not needed to offer anything but space for me. He was glad that I was able to sort it all through and arrive at my truth. What a blessing and a gift he was!
God has entrusted me with many talents as in today’s Gospel of Matthew. I have not buried or squandered them for the most part. Yet as I wind down my life, I do want to know what is left to give from the work of my heart. This has always been the most important piece of the work puzzle for me–whatever I have done for paid employment, I have done with passion and thrown myself into it. Beyond my career, I have always found ways to engage in life in order to serve the least of these.
The words Jesus praises the servants with five and two talents, saying that they have done well and are trustworthy in a few things so will be put in charge of many more. He then invites them into the joy of their master. This Labour Day I feel a bit more like the slave who had one simple talent but chose to hide it in fear. This is not because I am afraid of the Master but afraid that I might not complete the work or not discern properly what I am to do. I feel somewhat stuck, I suppose. Most of my life I knew exactly how to use my skills and now I find myself floundering. The past 24 hours have helped reassure me that it is time to pull my head out of the sand and begin this work of the heart, whatever it turns out to be. Happy labouring! Give birth to something spectacular.
What is the work of your heart these days?
Are you scared to put your talents to work?
Good and faithful Master, you call us to use our hearts to serve you, to bring about the work of the Kingdom, and to fear not. You are with us, guiding us, preparing the way, and cheering us on. Let me rise from the field, treasure in hand and work with you. Amen.