Desert Wisdom: Go to Work

I hope you have been able to purchase a copy of The Desert Fathers: The Sayings of the Early Christian Monks (edited by Benedicta Ward) for yourself.  If so, you realize how much I am leaving out by only selecting several sayings from each chapter of the book.  And so it continues as we bring our brief exploration of “Fortitude” (Book Seven) to a close.

Poemen also said this: Isidore, the presbyter in Scetis, once spoke to a group of monks and said, ‘My brothers, isn’t work the reason we are here?  But now I see that no work is done here.  So, I will take my cloak and go where there is work and so I shall find rest.” (7:14)

We cannot afford to adopt any kind of spirituality where the “sacredness of the ordinary” is left out or minimized.  We must continuously ask ourselves, “Where does the word ‘work’ fit into my spirituality?”

If you are not currently being forced to do what you do, then (at least potentially) you are working because of some sense of “call” to do what you do.  This means that the smallest and most-routine tasks are part of God’s will for you life.

When we step into the stream of historic Christian spirituality, we step into the tradition which says what Jean Pierre de Caussade put into words: “Do the next thing you have to do and do it for the glory of God.”  This was his simplest definition of a holy life.  It’s what Poemen said Isidore found missing when he came to a certain monastery.  So, he moved on—to the place where people did their work, and did it for God.

After you read this, what do you have to do next?  Do it for God.  Go to work.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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