Jesus was talking to his disciples about the joy of building the kingdom of God… and the humility of recognizing that sharing lives of love is not a new idea — we are not inventing the wheel. Many have come before us who have shown us what love embodied looks like. Their work prepares us to work. Jesus says it this way:
“I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor.
Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
from John 4:31-38
It helps me to remember that the things we do for one another and for the community around us is not an imposition or a burden or an obligation… but a passing along of a gift we have already received without price, or strings attached. The gift of grace, of unconditional love and acceptance and the forgiveness that gives us the freedom to move forward through the challenges of our lives, is not something we came up with on our own. We experience it, and we share it, and in sharing it, we are blessed to experience it again. It’s not a zero-sum game where someone gives and someone receives… in the giving, we multiply the gift, and even as we give it away, we also receive.
So it makes sense, then, in the most basic possible way, to do the work. Because while there is always more work to do, and we may never be done, the work is actually what increases our capacity to know and live into this mysterious, abundant, joyful life of love.
So here are some words for you,
as you learn to balance the challenges of the work with the joy of its embodiment,
as you find the balance of the time and energy you give with that you use to refresh and rejuvenate and revitalize yourself and your relationships,
as you make space for both the work you love with the work that is needed…
May your new work excite your heart,
Kindle in your mind a creativity
To journey beyond the old limits
Of all that has become wearisome.
May this work challenge you toward
New frontiers that will emerge
As you begin to approach them,
Calling forth from you the full force
And depth of your undiscovered gifts.
May the work fit the rhythms of your soul,
Enabling you to draw from the invisible
New ideas and a vision that will inspire.
Remember to be kind
To those who work for you,
Endeavor to remain aware
Of the quiet world
That lives behind each face.
Be fair in your expectations,
Compassionate in your criticism.
May you have the grace of encouragement
To awaken the gift in the other’s heart,
Building in them the confidence
To follow the call of the gift.
May you come to know that work
Which emerges from the mind of love
Will have beauty and form.
May this new work be worthy
Of the energy of your heart
And the light of your thought.
May your work assume
A proper space in your life;
Instead of owning or using you,
May it challenge and refine you,
Bringing you every day further
Into the wonder of your heart.
by Kris Marshall
Photo credit: from Urban Roots farm camp,
a summer day camp where children learn about agriculture