Get On With Work

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There were two ways to live: get on with work,
redeem the time, ignore the imminence
of cataclysm; or else take it slow,
be as tranquil as the neighbors’ cow
we love to tickle through the barbed wire fence
(she paces through her days in massive innocence,
or, seeing green pastures, we imagine so).
In fact, not being cows, we have no choice.
~Rachel Hadas from “The End of Summer”
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I did not grow up in a household that took time off.  Time was redeemed by work, and work was noble and honorable and proved we had a right to exist.
Vacation road trips were rare and almost always associated with my father’s work.  When he came home from his desk job in town, he would immediately change into his farm clothes and put in several hours of work outside, rain or shine, light or dark.  My mother did not work in town while we were children, but worked throughout her day in and outside the house doing what farm wives and mothers need to do: growing, hoeing, harvesting, preserving, washing, cleaning, sewing, and most of all, being there for us.
As kids, we had our share of chores that were simply part of our day as work was never done on a farm. When we turned twelve, we began working for others: babysitting, weeding, barn and house cleaning, berry picking.  I have now done over fifty years of gainful employment – there were times I worked four part-time jobs at once because that was what I could put together to keep things together.
I wish there had been more times I had taken a few moments to be more like the cows I see meandering, tranquil and unconcerned, in the surrounding green pastures. Part of every day now I pull myself away from the work to be done, the work that is always calling and staring me in the face, and try a different way to redeem my time: to notice, to record, to observe, to appreciate beauty that exists in the midst of chaos and cataclysm.
Life isn’t all about non-stop labor, yet we get on with our work because work is about showing up when and where we are needed. Not being cows, we may feel we have no choice in the matter. Just maybe, like cows, we can manage to slow down,  watch what is happening around us, and by chewing our cud, keep contemplating and digesting whatever life feeds us, the sweet and the sour.
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6 thoughts on “Get On With Work

  1. Thank you, Emily.
    You remind us that “…we can manage to slow down, watch what is happening around us… by contemplating and digesting whatever life feeds us, the sweet and the sour.”

    Time spent in ‘renewal’ of our minds, bodies and souls should never be an option. It is essential – crucial – for our long-term well being.
    Our MINDS need to be stimulated by new sights, new people, new ideas (as you so faithfully provide your readers).
    Our BODY’S rhythm needs periodic re-calibration. We need to remember that it is an engine – lovingly and mysteriously engineered by our Creator-God. Just as we need periodic tune ups for our cars after reaching a certain mileage, so too do we need the same for our bodies, or we will reach the finish line much too soon.
    Our SOUL – is a very special entity that requires thoughtful attention. We need time for PRAYER, silent or spoken, using our own words as we would do in conversation with a friend, or examples found in Scripture. Then, just as important, is CONTEMPLATION – silent meditation (by whatever name we wish to define it). This is that sacred time during which we LISTEN to what God has to say to us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful reflection on Labor Day…
    I had a similar upbringing like you Emily. Little vacation, plenty of rewarding work. Happy times around home. Now, as my children are all out of the nest and my mother lives next door, I have a different set of care and work… I am trying to be more diligent about carving out time for reflection and prayer, amidst my “to do lists.” Today, I went to the Dahlia Festival in Canby,OR with my mother and a young bride, who along with her pilot husband is staying in our guest room, while looking for a house. It was a beautiful get a way to enjoy the beauty of flowers, take the Canby Ferry over the Willamette River to Wilsonville and see the refreshing fall countryside.

    Liked by 1 person

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