I am writing this essay on Labor Day which seems like an appropriate time to meditate on basic issues around spirituality and work.
Especially when the foundations seem to have shifted some during the covid emergency of the last few years when some people sacrificed so much to remain in dangerous working circumstances — front line workers like nurses, doctors, staff people in hospitals and nursing homes as well as workers in grocery stores, public transportation, teachers and the rest. Many of these people got sick or even died in serving others.
All of this was an affirmation still again of the value and importance of the work we do and how deeply it ministers to others in various expressions of compassion, healing, readiness, generosity, giving. An affirmation of how interdependent we are–how we need workers of all kinds so that we may live, thrive—and work.
For those who stayed home from work during the pandemic and were able to work from home, deep questions arose about the relationship of work and family and of the meaning and value of our work.
All this happened in the context of course of a pandemic that reminded us all of our mortality. This surely stirred many to ask deeper questions about work. Is work just for a paycheck, the bigger the better? Is work our way of leaving gifts behind for others, of saying thank you for having been here? And much more.
One phenomenon occurring in the work world today is that of the Gen Z generation raising questions about the amount of time dedicated to work vs. the amount of time dedicated to family or relationships or causes one believes deeply in such as saving the Earth or building relationships.
A new phrase has arisen called “quiet quitting.” It isn’t about getting off the company payroll, we are told, but about staying on it and still having energy left to focus on things one does outside of our work worlds.
Given today’s tight labor market, many workers feel empowered to push back some and talk about quiet quitting on TikTok I am told (not being a TikTok user myself).
Maybe it means getting a fuller perspective on life and work.
All this seems to raise anew the age-old issues of a spirituality of work. We will explore this further in upcoming DM’s.
And Matthew Fox, The Reinvention of Work.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: Work as one part of a whole life. Photo by Sarah Chai on Pexels
Queries for Contemplation
How did the pandemic affect your attitudes toward work? How do you see it having affected others’ attitudes toward work?
The Reinvention of Work: A New Vision of Livelihood For Our Time
Thomas Aquinas said, “To live well is to work well,” and in this bold call for the revitalization of daily work, Fox shares his vision of a world where our personal and professional lives are celebrated in harmony–a world where the self is not sacrificed for a job but is sanctified by authentic “soul work.”
“Fox approaches the level of poetry in describing the reciprocity that must be present between one’s inner and outer work…[A]n important road map to social change.” ~~ National Catholic Reporter