I am a consummate football fan. I am a devoted Oregon Ducks fan. Watching them “play their little hearts out” on Thursday night as they raced across the field and exhausted their opponent
brought me immense delight. Keep those Ducks quackin,’ I kept thinking!
One of the pillars of Benedictine spirituality is creative work. I often think that when we work in a manner that brings us joy, that pushes drudgery aside and enters into the mystery of creativity, that we are closest to the one attribute we can “for sure” assign to God: Creator! To participate in work is to participate in the very act of God! It is to be “creator” … it is to be close to God. As Barbara Cawthorne Crafton puts it, “…work ennobles us by allowing us to experience something of what God knows in creating the universe and in creating us.”
In this sense, there is no menial task. All is holy. Today while doing some Saturday housecleaning, I am trying to be mindful of that. Dusting … vacuuming … organizing … washing … all is holy. I’m mindful of people who are ill or elderly or in prison and unable to engage in such tasks. I have the privilege of looking upon these mundane tasks as holy ritual, as a chance to be creative and mindful.
And I think of my Oregon Ducks … engaged in their creative work, “playing their little hearts out” with their eyes on the prize. Can I too look at my daily work in the sense of “playing my little heart out” with joy and with my eyes on the prize? It won’t be a trophy to set on a shelf; rather it will be being so close to God that I too am “creator”, participating in the work of building up the human community. Fancy footwork, glorious passes, and right-on receptions can be creative work on the field. Housecleaning, extending hospitality to our guests, planning and giving retreats, meeting the needs of those on staff: these are my creative work.
May all our work this weekend be done in Benedict’s words: That in all things God may be glorified!