2 Advent Friday


One of the Shakers’ chief maxims was “Put your hands to work and your hearts to God.” Well, of course, this is normal for us. You work and your heart is lifted up to God while you are working and you are working for God. Now, to work for God means not this business of working and looking at God, but working in such a way that your work is your union with God. Ideally speaking, whatever a person is doing, his work is his union with God. From my own point of view, if I have to write something, if I have to prepare a conference or something like that, the kind of work that is my work — then I have to find God in that work. There is no point in my rushing like mad through a work period and typing fifteen or twenty pages and getting it out by four o’clock and then going to pray. It is not a question of working in a sort of half daze, so you will sort of work and go off a little bit, and come back, and float a little bit, and so forth. It is more a question of when you work, you think about your work.

This, I would say, is absolutely fundamental. Don’t think that when you are thinking about your work, in so far as it needs to be thought about, it is a distraction. There are certain kinds of work that don’t require much thought, so if you don’t have to be thinking about the work then okay, then think about anything you want. But still, you have to think enough about the work so the work is going to get done right. But, if you have a job that requires thought, you think about finishing the work right, and that is your prayer.”

— Thomas Merton in Seeking Paradise: The Spirit of the Shakers edited by Paul M. Pearson

Today: “When I take out the garbage I take out the garbage.” Consider how that might become our prayer.

Ed Jansen, OCM

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