Sunday, June 9, 2013

Your Soul at Work

Most people are dissatisfied with their jobs for the same reason that they are dissatisfied with their lives: they have forgotten that they have immortal souls. Even those people who are intent upon doing good work for integrity’s sake oftentimes fail to see the transcendent nature of their work, because they have left their souls out of the equation. Having negated the soul, they forget that even the smallest gesture, word, attitude, or action, are reflecting something of their souls (for good or ill), and that the work itself is an avenue for deep soul work. It is not solely about the work we produce, but also the work that is being accomplished in us and through us that is of eternal consequence.

Consider these two passages from Wendell Berry’s book, “Christianity and the Survival of Creation”:

It is impossible to see how good work might be accomplished by people who think that our life in this world either signifies nothing or has only a negative significance. If, on the other hand, we believe that we are living souls, God's dust and God's breath, acting our parts among other creatures all made of the same dust and breath as ourselves; and if we understand that we are free, within the obvious limits of moral human life, to do evil or good to ourselves and to the other creatures - then all our acts have a supreme significance. If it is true that we are living souls and morally free, then all of us are artists. All of us are makers, within mortal terms and limits, of our lives, of one another's lives, of things we need and use...

If we think of ourselves as living souls, immortal creatures, living in the midst of a Creation that is mostly mysterious, and if we see that everything we make or do cannot help but have an everlasting significance for ourselves, for others, and for the world, then we see why some religious teachers have understood work as a form of prayer...

When all we see is the work at hand, our perspective is earth bound, time bound, because the work is all there is, and all there is begins with me and ends when my life ends. Even if you are a brain surgeon who is saving lives every day, if you are not engaging your soul, if you forget that both you and your patients are “God’s dust and God’s breath,” there is a world of supreme significance and meaningfulness that you are not seeing or experiencing.

What if every day you went to work knowing that most everything that is about to occur is being used for soul work? What if you approached the struggles, the conflicts, the temptations, and all the possibilities for expressing your love for God and others that you initiate or ignore, as tools that are shaping your soul? Now, the reality is that, whether you see this or not, all these things are determining the character of your soul. The only question here is whether your soul is becoming an “immortal horror” or an “everlasting splendor.” (CS Lewis)

Yet it is not only a case where the work that we are doing is helping to shape our souls, but that where we work is a place where we express our souls: our love for God and others, our stands and commitments regarding integrity and virtue, or the lack thereof. What is pouring out of your soul every day into the work place and onto your work mates? Is it a testament of an individual who is living with the awareness that they have an immortal soul and are engaging other immortal souls? Does your work reflect the knowledge that what you do, how you go about doing what you do, and who you are, have eternal significance? Whatever your answers here, what you are being presented with are opportunities for a more thoroughgoing soul work. You are also being shown possibilities for furthering the transformation of your workplace into an avenue for expressing the depth and breadth of an immortal soul that is ever-increasingly filled with love for the eternal God and for all those with whom you work, who also have immortal souls that are at stake.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2013

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