We are, in this time of plague, meditating on the important reality of Work and how Spirit operates through human Work.  As we have noted, authentic human work always includes service to others and a time of emergency lays bare the radical interdependence of human work. 

“Elders’ Art Class.” Photo by Monkey Business, Adobe Stock

None of us can do everything.  Some plant and others reap, some manufacture and others distribute, some are wholesalers and others are retailers, some entertain and some set up the microphones for entertainment events.  Some doctor and others keep hospital rooms clean of infection; some nurse and others assist with anesthesia; some teach and others staff schools; some sell groceries, others grow the food, still others transport the food.  Some speak and others sponsor talks; some write books and others publish books while others interview authors. Some study science and some teach it and others apply it, etc. etc. etc.

I highly recommend going to the following link for this timely article, so in tune with our recent Daily Meditations honoring the holiness of human work. 

Maybe one of the great silver linings of this current emergency might be our awakening anew to the foundational truths about 1) our common interdependence around work and service and 2) how Spirit works through us and our work.

See: Migrants are the Unsung Heroes of the Pandemic

Following are a few lessons from this important article.  The author proposes that “you can argue that migrants are the unsung, front-line heroes of the pandemic. 

From hospitals to farmlands, migrants are providing vital labor to keep societies afloat” even while they are among the most vulnerable workers.  With all the anti-immigrant propaganda floating around these days, European countries are reporting serious issues because their agriculture is seriously dependent on migrant workers.  Eastern European migrants usually come to the West at harvest time but with lockdowns in place a lot of crops may start rotting in the fields—French strawberries, German asparagus and more.  Farmers may suffer severely we are told.

Farmworkers picking cucumbers. Photo from Flickr by Bread for the World.

Says a berry grower in Oxnard, California, “It’s sad that it takes a health crisis like this to highlight the farmworkers’ importance.” Moreover, many of these workers lack safety in their workplaces even at this dangerous moment.

In addition, a high percentage of hospital workers are immigrants—in America 17% of health care workers, 20% of pharmacists, and 33% of physicians were not born in the US. 

Thirteen percent of British health care workers are from abroad and the first four doctors in Britain to die of coronavirus while working with their patients were Muslim and were immigrants from Africa, Asia or the Middle East.

In such a time of interdependence and labor interdependence racism becomes ever more ignorant and stupid. 

One yearns for a reminder of the deep link between Spirit and Work such as the mystics provide.  Aquinas: The Holy Spirit “moves the heart to work.”

See Matthew Fox, The Reinvention of Work, pp. 64 ff.

Banner Image: To toil in the field. Photo from Flickr by Pam Link.

Queries for Contemplation

How do these stories of workers today inform your understanding of the work of Spirit and Humans at work?

Recommended Reading

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.

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7 thoughts on “Honoring the Frontline Workers”

  1. Avatar

    Kate Wilson’s writing about this time of grief and stillness is so poignant! And bringing in the value and vital importance of Migrant workers really highlights how greatly we need to wake up and be grateful! Matthew, these meditations reinforce my commitment to Environmental Justice work, as that’s what seems to be mine to do. As you say- none of us can do everything. Each can do what we can, where we are, with what we’ve got to offer.

  2. Avatar

    About 1989 and for 5 years i had a deeply traumatizing experience that is associated with taking a high pressure job and having to do it no choice at the same time as tricked forced separation from my daughter the joy of my heart all that time. The tricking was engineered by my former and a military officer of rank in the American air-force stationed in the UK. His was the oversight of loading bombs to drop on Iraq killing what might be millions of people. My psyche was deeply twisted around and cut to shreds. Only one night ago did synchronicity of my receiving great affirmation of who I am coincide with current circumstances affecting my daughter, some 30 years after the beginning the psyche twist and knifing so that we actually communicated at any depth. I broke apart after a cruel dream symbolic of the whole thing yet I know it to be given me.

    It became clear that my daughter had in effect taken a kind of grooming over all those years and she doesn’t know it. I was screwed psychologically while bomb loader was charismatic and affectionate to her. He had 3 children he left in America and projected the affection due them onto my daughter. That’s how it is in my perception. So much so that when she was to be married, met with me to tell me/ask about arrangements, the man, my silent nickname for him Tombo Bombo would be as father walking her down the aisle and would I do readings because she thought I was into that sort of thing (I’m a Francis can life vowed). When my head dropped and my voice compressed she said she didn’t know it would upset me.

    I did walk her down the aisle etc standing next to her listening and praying for her marriage all the time.
    I offered to shake his hand at the church entrance but he bolstered passed it. She had him sit next to her at the reception head table while I was at one from the end.

    Now we’re 4 yrs later. I have a 3 yr old grandchild which I have seen only a handful of and half of them accidently crossing paths while out somewhere.

    On Facebook, he commented on model like photographs of her he posted with a pet name, which she associates with affection as ‘Demon’. I commented by saying her name is (changed names to anonymise) Mary Lou Gaitly ne
    Saran. He replied “You need to keep off of my page and mind your own business!”. To which I put that it is my business because she is my daughter!
    Then came since when? Which told what I suspected clearly in words the mindset my daughter was brought up with, “putting her through University and other stuff” purchased with blood money which facilitated Iraq civilian deaths 1000s millions who knows. One would be one too many. And it’s legacy of suffering handed along generation to generation. Psych scars like mine.

    I have also had abuse from CofE clergy psyche and spiritual. “Why haven’t you got a job” was sneered at me by the parish priests boy groomed into priest training as we stood beside the baptismal font no with no one else there but the same priest delivered via Norwich (England UK), Diocesan director of ordinands a stab to my back by letter, feeling also like a sneer, “I never really supported his candidacy anyway” hissssss, slippery hissssssssss.

    The rejection was supported with observation that the marriage I was in was going through troubles and so not a time for said thing. But the parish priest offered nothing in terms of marriage guidance.
    Groomed blue eyed boy is an arch deacon now! As I have reason to believe through my own experience of his attitude in ignorance towards people with mental illness I have issued for a few days and then took down (on Twitter but I don’t think on Facebook) notice to such like vulnerable people to keep away from him.
    Also issued notices about Welby for failing to speak out publicly about con government welfare benefit and social care reforms hurting and killing vulnerable people NHS 100s billions order defunding sorely needed then and particularly now for coping with corona outbreak. Vulnerable hit gain.

    The picture I have is that CofE is passing me out through its Sewage pipe outlet.

    However, I am accepted for Ordination as priest through OCAC succession within International Community of St John the divine and Saint Mary of Magdala. It’s a Christocentered multifaith liberal catholic sort of thing.

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear Philip,
      Congratulations on being accepted for Ordination as a priest through OCAC. Although all I know of you is the story I have just read, I see that you have a heart of compassion and justice. Otherwise, you would not have felt so much pain when loading bombs for dropping into Iraq. Perhaps your new position as a priest will give you the language and the spiritual strength to share who you were and what you were feeling at that time with your daughter. She deserves to know for your sake, and for her own sake, so she can appreciate what kind of principled and loving father she had and what kind of principles and love she has inherited through you.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

  3. Avatar
    Elizabeth Stamp

    With gratitude to you, Dearest Matthew, for mystical insight and wisdom. You continue to fortify my soul work. This pause is certainly required to awaken us to care for Mother Earth, whose giving needs respect to continue the evolutionary process of birthing a new way to be human. May you be blessed abundantly,
    Elizabeth, your friend in Canada

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear Elizabeth,
      Thank you for your comment. And may this pandemic give us the opportunity to recognize that we are all continuing the evolutionary process together, one human family. And Earth is our Mother.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

  4. Avatar

    Thank you for highlighting farmworkers. I support the United Farmworkers, in grateful memory of Cesar Chavez and invite others to do so as well. They have basically no safety net, many do not have access to masks, social distancing is not possible on the buses so many of them must rely on, there is no sick leave for many, many were not even told early on what precautions to take, and so on. If enough of us make a fuss, maybe their conditions will improve.

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear Sue,
      I hope you do find a way to bring our voices together in protest of the treatment of our Farmworkers. Perhaps this is your sacred work being called forth from Creation. This is a Unique opportunity to shine a light on how people have been treated, while we blithely eat our produce with little knowledge of the suffering that has taken place to put it on our tables.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

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