Forty More Days, Day 22–On Right Livelihood

Today has been one of those days when I was in nonstop meetings almost all day. I barely had time for bathroom breaks. I know, I know: Mama said there’ll be days like this. And so it goes. Such is my current life. I run and run, then I run some more. I am getting to an age where I could be thinking about retiring. A number of people I know from days past are retiring. I have family members who are retired. Unfortunately it is not yet time for me to join them. I made some decisions earlier in my life that mean I need to work longer to make up for them. And so it goes.

When I was working on my doctorate, I ran across this quote. It was not quite on the matter I was meant to be studying, but in the same book I needed other material from. But it so resonated with me and does to this day about the importance of finding meaningful work.

“To find out what one is fitted to do and to secure an opportunity to do it is the key to happiness. Nothing is more tragic than failure to discover one’s true business in life, or to find that one has drifted or been forced by circumstance into an uncongenial calling.” ~~John Dewey

There have been times in my life when I felt like I had drifted and/or been forced into an “uncongenial calling.” I have spent a chunk of time wondering how I got to where I got to doing what I ended up doing. At this moment, none of that is relevant, because as Popeye might say, “I yam where I yam.” That is to say that I’m doing what I’m doing and I can’t turn back the clock on that. What I can do is find the gift in what I’m doing now, the lessons I need to learn, the experiences I am meant to have. And in spite of the fact that I might not yet be doing exactly what I am “fitted to do,” I have fit what I do into what I need it to be in this moment.

Imagine Jesus, working as a carpenter in Nazareth. For most of his early adult life, he performed hard, physical labor. I guarantee that there were times when he knew he wasn’t doing what he was called to do. I wonder did he chafe at times with restlessness and the desire to be doing something else, anything else than be a carpenter in Nazareth. I ask the question this year that I’ve asked in Forty Days blogs in the past, “What did Jesus know and when did he know it,” in terms of what his life would be like when he finally freed himself to pursue his true ministry as a preacher, teacher, and healer. Did he know as he worked with wood and tools and developed callouses on his hands that he was called to lay those work-roughened hands on people and heal them? When did he know that he would step into his true calling, or  had he always known?

I’ve spent the better part of my adult life helping people discover their callings, their “right livelihood,” their congenial calling. I haven’t had much success doing that for myself, however. Physician, heal thyself, right? But that’s part of the beauty of these 40 days. We can examine various aspect of our lives, we can look back at our journey and be grateful for lessons learned, ponder our future opportunities, and most importantly we can examine where our hearts and minds are in this moment and be grateful for where we are right now. This moment is all we really have anyway. Thank goodness for the blessing of these 40 days to be in reflection about these weighty questions. Smile.

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