My Chicago Home

My Chicago Home
How can we best live as modern, active contemplatives where prairie meets city?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Fruits of our labor

"In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous"...Aristotle

I gathered the above veggies out of my garden for lunch, and was so struck by their beauty, color and form, I just had to take a picture...Soon after, I scrubbed, chopped and plopped them into a pot with water, making rich, thick, tasty vegetable soup. See the luxurious, plum color of the eggplant at left, and the eye-popping orange of the first carrots I've ever successfully grown. I recently blogged, "Walking with God in the Garden," but my garden is so like a jungle now, "walking" is out of the question. I play Twister with squash and cucumber vines, creeping, stooping or balancing precariously and bobbing like one of those goofy drinking birds, to harvest the fruit. By the time I've loaded my basket full of good things, I've gotten quite a workout navigating my organic obstacle course. I have pumpkins growing up arbor vitae! I guess more trellises are in order.

Oh, if we could always see such tangible fruits of our labor! But never fear, even when we don't see results, labor is good for us.'s our very nature. And, as Aristotle said, it can be "marvelous."

", created in the image of God, shares by his work in the activity of the Creator," wrote Blessed John Paul II in his encyclical Laborem Exercens. This year marks the 30th anniversary of this powerful document exploring the dignity of work. 

Spending most our lives in labor, it forms us, yet should never enslave us:

No labor's lost

defining days
often, unavoidably, evenings
Varied, intense, exhilarating
repetitious, draining, dry

We are made for this
digging deep into labor
sparks the soul 
plants and waters
the nourishing kernel that makes us whole
enervates each day

If deadly dull, seek meaning
Each task done bitterly
drains life
like a schoolyard insult
signals opportunity lost

Duty done boldly
like a toe reach over that final hurdle
or the last notes breathed by symphony players
outdoors on a humid evening

Duty dignifies
if done heartily
with humor
and for that one great goal

a sigh to God
and the uplifting
of humanity

Labor saves
Yes, and can even
be savored

By Marianna Bartholomew

"Entrust your works to the Lord and your plans will succeed." Proverbs 16:3

Happy Labor Day!