The Daily Grind of Good Work!
At times I sit back in my chair and look out the window of my office. Sometimes those glances beckon me to another place: the outdoors, fresh air, sitting in the sun, feeling the breeze – the visions and desires vary depending on the season. It’s often distracting and I realize that as my mind has wandered, the work on my desk remains undone. Maybe you’ve had this experience.
We can certainly agree that getting up and taking a short break is an often overlooked practice that can help us stay healthy and focused. There are times for intensity in our work, and there are times for a break from work. The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us that this ebb and flow is an important part of life on earth. In fact, he says that there is “nothing better” for us but to “rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks see good in all his labor – it is the gift of God” (Eccl. 3:12-13). God has given the gift of labor, but also the gift of seeing the good of that labor.
My experience with distraction takes another spin as well. Maybe yours does too. On some occasions my glances out the window draw my thoughts to a place that I think I “should be.” It reminds me of an underlying thought that “where I’m at” is not as good as “someplace else.” I am not just distracted from my work, but I become dissatisfied with it. Somehow life has been unfair. Certainly there is something more important for me to be doing that what I am actually doing! “Why is my life being wasted?” I ask. If I’m not careful and attentive to my thoughts, bitterness can creep in and manifest itself in many ways (anger, depression, etc.) – especially as I interact with those around me. Too often we lash out at others due to some frustration in ourselves or our circumstances. We must be careful of this.
To correct this tendency, like the writer of Ecclesiastes, we must regard our work well. We must consider it as the gift of God that it is, but also reflect upon it so we might see the good that it has done. To live each moment as it comes, and enjoy each moment as we live it. At work or at play. In busy-ness or at rest. Consider the thoughts of Henry Van Dyke in a poem simply titled, “Work.” (Hint: It’s always best to read poetry out loud to get the full sense of its meaning.)
Let me but do my work from day to day,
In field or forest, at the desk or loom,
In roaring market-place or tranquil room;
Let me but find it in my heart to say,
When vagrant wishes beckon me astray,
“This is my work; my blessing, not my doom;
Of all who live, I am the one by whom
This work can best be done in the right way.”
Then shall I see it not too great, nor small,
To suit my spirit and to prove my powers;
Then shall I cheerful greet the labouring hours,
And cheerful turn, when the long shadows fall
At eventide, to play and love and rest,
Because I know for me my work is best.
Don’t let the daily grind grind you down. Rather, grab a cup of your favorite beverage and savor a moment to “see good” in your labor. It is the gift of God!