"...make it your ambition to lead a quiet life... and work with your hands"
1 Thessalonians 4:11
On Saturday, I meal planned and shopped.
Yesterday, I deep cleaned the bathrooms.
Today, I'm putting away summer clothes and pulling out cool weather ones, making a list of things we need and sorting through those we don't.
Ordinarily such things would not be high on my list of pleasures, but after more than a month of being only able to do the bare minimum around here, I was downright pleased to be back at it. Cleaning. Cooking. Doing my job, my work. Returning to it after an absence made me realize that this work of mine isn't mundane drudgery: it is a gift.
I once watched a documentary about grown up trust fund babies, "Born Rich." The movie documented how each of them searched for purpose, all the while knowing that they would never have to work. One part in particular sticks in my mind. A wealthy young man was considering getting into some sort of collecting - books, I believe. He was speaking with an elderly man who owned a rare book shop, and it came out that he was simply looking for something to bring purpose and meaning to his life. The elderly man laughed and said something along the lines of: "if I were wealthy, I would be happy and never work again!" The look in the eyes of the young man was unmistakable - a kind of pain of being misunderstood and of unfulfilled longing for something more out of life.
I'm thinking of this while scrubbing toilets. And wiping down walls. And carrying another load of laundry down those rickety stairs. The truth is, work is a blessing. Many of us grew up thinking that work is just another curse brought down on us all by Adam and Eve way back in the beginning. But that's not true. Before the serpent and the tree of Good and Evil changed things forever, Adam was given work: The naming and organization of animals. The caretaking of the garden. Together with his wife, Eve, they worked.
I'll admit, a few weeks ago, faced with the prospect of not having to work as I normally do, I would probably have a response similar to that of the elderly man in the documentary. Not having to work sounds wonderful! But in reality, work is much more than earthly toil. It's a blessing from God to us, an opportunity to do what He has for us and return it to Him as an act of praise. Yes, even cleaning bathtubs and making dinner for my family can be offered up, glory to Him who has given us this life. When I was unable to work, for awhile I enjoyed just sitting quietly on the couch, reading or knitting. But after a few days of idleness, I missed it. And now that I am back and able to return to my daily chores, I'm amazed at how grateful I am. To be able to do the things that I do, unglamorous as they may seem to some.
Taking care of this home and these people, my small lot in this great big world - yet a big enough job for me.