We are being reminded at this dangerous time of what a gift human work is. We honor the doctors and nurses, hospital workers, ambulance drivers and policemen and women, manufacturers of life-saving equipment such as respirators and more for their life-saving work at this time. And the farmers and distributors and cashiers and shelf stockers who keep us all going by putting food on our table. The list goes on and on.
In an emergency situation like today we all learn to be grateful—and not to take for granted—the work of others. Interdependence becomes ever more real and precious every day. We depend on one another for our common survival and existence.
It has been flip and easy of late to hear dismissive language like “so and so is privileged” because they became a nurse or doctor.
But doing so was taking a demanding path that required years of hard work and education, very likely taking on considerable debt, to become competent.
Frankly, I am grateful to many so-called “privileged” ones for having taken the hard-earned path of becoming a professional in one’s work world that can serve the rest of us effectively and competently.
I wish there were a lot more doctors and nurses serving a lot more communities and supporting one another in today’s crisis. A system that deliberately ignores educating the poor to such important work is not sustainable. So many poor communities are ill served by medical help because the system has prevented them from being trained for important work. Our medical workers are too few.
Our country needs more medical practitioners including more scientists who are competent to research such matters as upcoming viruses and other threats to our common survival.
Twenty-five years ago, in my book on the Reinvention of Work, I proposed that the archetypal meaning of priest is to be a midwife of grace. It is plainly evident that the front line responders to the current pandemic are midwives of grace. Their work is priestly. They deserve praise for their dedication; and courage; and generosity in putting themselves in danger by their long hours among the sick, often, thanks to a completely inept governmental response, with dangerous lack of protection for themselves.
Rightly do we honor such courage and generosity. And stories will emerge from this moment that will be told for generations to come. Stories that tell other generations of humans what really matters: What it means to be a full human being.
In this and some subsequent DM’s we will meditate on the holiness of our work, a holiness that is on display today among those assisting the sick.
Our work, the universe’s work and God’s work are interconnected. Thomas Aquinas teaches that God works in our work, for “God works at the heart of all activity.”
See Matthew Fox, The Reinvention of Work, p. 64.
Banner Image: Hospital staff suit up as protective gear supplies dwindle. Photo credit: Hospital CLÍNIC, Francisco Àvia_Hospital Clínic, Barcelona, on Flickr.
Queries for Contemplation
Do you agree with Aquinas that “God works at the heart of all activity.” What follows from that?
Natural Grace: Dialogues on Creation, Darkness, and the Soul in Spirituality and Science
by Matthew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake
Natural Grace, a 208 page inspired dialogue between theologian Matthew Fox and scientist Rupert Sheldrake, unites wisdom and knowledge from unconventional angles. Considering themselves heretics in their own fields, Matthew and Rupert engage the conversation from postmodern and post-postmodern perspectives, deconstructing both religion and science—while setting the foundation for a new emerging worldview. Having outgrown the paradigms in which they were raised, both Fox and Sheldrake see it as part of their life missions to share the natural synthesis of spirituality and science rooted in a paradigm of evolutionary cosmology.