Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Labor Day 2017 - The Graced Labor of Presence

1 Corinthians 3: 7-9, 16
Field of Soul, Mary Ann Wakeley

So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building…

16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?

Today I labored, but it was not work. Today I labored, but nothing tangible can be seen. Today I labored, but in love. I labored to be a vessel of the Divine expression of love and peace in this world. It was not work. It was graced. It felt like a well of gratitude into which the felt presence of others invited the Spirit to flow from the depths of my “Yes” back out to their hearts.  

This morning I was honored to join a friends family, as Chaplain, for the committal of their beloved father and husband. We shared the Spirit of Ervin under the bright morning sun on a quiet hill, with Ervin’s breath all around us, whispering assurance on the breeze and singing alleluias with birdsong. This was not work. It was grace in action. It was all the receivers open and receiving the blessing and magnitude of Life: chaos and order, sorrow and joy, all present in the moment of Ervin.

Do you know that one meaning for the latin, “labore” is to plow? This morning we showed up. We let the silence of nature and the penetrating ritual of the flag folding remind us of all that was planted and watered through Ervin’s being. And as we opened our hearts to God’s grace, the rain filled our deep wells of gratitude and we shared Life and Love.
Field of Love, Mary Ann Wakeley


This afternoon I lead meditation. It was quiet time to relax and attune the mind to the body, to open us to peace and invite the Spirit to sculpt us in ways yet to be realized. It’s not work. Its surrender. It’s more receptive than active. It’s the waiting part of the planting and watering. It’s the art of becoming present to the process of grace and gratitude; learning to access to the underground spring from which blessing flows. It’s the way we invoke grace, even if we use clinical language like, integrating the mind-body. Make no mistake, meditation is the age-old method of offering up our labor, our planting and watering, to communion with the Holy. The body and the blood, in such posture of consent, remember they are the temple.

This day is Labor Day. It’s set aside for us to celebrate the fruits of our faithfulness to something. Some are faithful to projects and processes, others to leading, still others to loved ones. Most of us put our faith in many things. But none that are not wondrously overshadowed by our faithfulness to this day: the rising sun, the turning earth, blowing winds and flowing tides. Before we even put a foot on the floor, we labor without work. We plow the field of Divine communion within, by acknowledging the wonder of Life. In this way, we can consciously invoke the grace that grows all our daily expressions into plowshares of gratitude, openness to the needs of others, and generous care. These behind the scenes labors of love, “the eucharists of the ordinary” create each sacred day.

No one says this better than Irish poet, John O’Donohue: The Inner History of a Day

No one knew the name of this day;
Born quietly from deepest night,
It hid its face in light,
Demanded nothing for itself,
Opened out to offer each of us
A field of brightness that traveled ahead,
Providing in time, ground to hold our footsteps
And the light of thought to show the way.
Mary Ann Wakeley

The mind of the day draws no attention;
It dwells within the silence with elegance
To create a space for all our words,
Drawing us to listen inward and outward.

We seldom notice how each day is a holy place
Where the eucharist of the ordinary happens,
Transforming our broken fragments
Into an eternal continuity that keeps us.

Somewhere in us a dignity presides
That is more gracious than the smallness
That fuels us with fear and force,
A dignity that trusts the form a day takes.

So at the end of this day, we give thanks
For being betrothed to the unknown
And for the secret work
Through which the mind of the day
And wisdom of the soul become one.

As you labor through this sacred life, may you remember to plow the field of your soul, early and often. And water frequently with self-care, that workless labor of love that invokes the Divine mystery of who you are, and wonderously grows you into a loving being of peace and compassion, whose fragrance drifts over the day inviting all souls to communion.

Peace, Peggy
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