Thursday, June 3, 2010

Remembering that Work is Love and Love takes Work

The work I have joined here is beautiful beyond what I had imagined. Even more remarkable is my ability to easily loose sight of the bigger picture and focus on myself. It is in my nature to quickly wish for what I no longer have; whether it be good weather, familiar friends, the ability to speak the language of most people I know, or eat foods that don't send me running to the bathroom. Some people label it homesickness; I prefer the term ungratefulness.

However, this week my eyes were opened a little to the "good and perfect gifts" G*d has showered before me;
I have the challenge and excitement of learning a new language...
a bengali family to learn hospitality from each day as they call me "daughter" and treat me as one too...
the simplicity of life in the slums and late night pillow talk with Auntie (my bed-mate)...
the adventure and growing pride in mastering 5 new forms of public transportation
the business skills I have been taught in the past month for my new job...
eating on average 3 mangoes a day, chai 4x a day, and discovering the best naan ever...
having over 150 women to love and learn love from each day.
(to name a few)

I recall the night of my going away party, a good friend of mine gave me an archaic looking poetry book. Not being the "poetry reading type," I let it collect dust for a few weeks before parting it's pages and discovered the beautiful truth between them.This book is called The Prophet, written by Kahlil Gibran.

It is also remarkable how fitting the passages of this little poetry book intertwine with my life, as I am learning let go of so much that I held dear while I simultaneously growing to embrace all things new here. G*d is patiently and gently teaching me to find myself anew in a place where no one knows me, guiding me to remember that "loosing your life to gain it" really means "loosing my life", and a life of discipleship requires a bit of discipline.

I hope this builds courage in you as much as it has me.
An excerpt from The Prophet concerning work
And I say that life is indeed darkness
save when there is urge,
And all urge is blind
save when there is knowledge
And all knowledge is vain
save when there is work
And all work is empty
save when there is love;
And when you work with love
you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another,
and to G*d.
And what is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth of threads drawn from your heart,
even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection,
even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy,
even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit....

Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste,
you should leave your work
and sit at the gate of the temple
and take alms of those who work with joy.
For if you bake bread with indifference,
you bake a biter bread that feeds
but half a man's hunger.

To work, this is my prayer, that I am slowly learning to embody.