Funny thing – work. It can mean so many things to many people. Most work is good, helpful and necessary, but there is more to this subject that needs considering.
When I was younger, work seemed very close to play, it was something new and interesting, sometimes repetitive, but not always something different than what I did on a regular basis and so there was no division between work and all the other things I did. As I grew into my teens, the purpose of work changed in my thinking. It seemed to be something I was required to do, had to do and yet, still sometimes I enjoyed doing it. When I became a young adult it took on a whole new role in my life. It was something I had to do, prepare to do and was required to change my life to accommodate it. Mostly, it was a way to become financially self sufficient and enabled me to make financial decisions on my own.
I guess I didn’t put that much importance on work, nor did I want it to change my life so much to accommodate it. Like many I did not have the drive to do something for twenty years or focus on one particular activity or interest. I had too many. There were and still are too many things in the world to see and do.
I still see the importance of work for the sake of helping others, building a better environment and developing and using skills and talents. I think it is the feeling of urgency to do work that is not so strong. Work now has it’s own place and time. There were times in my life when I felt I had to do so many things. All was a flurry of business and if I didn’t participate in this activity there was something wrong. Now, I know that life needs a bit more balance between work and play. And sometimes it can be both. Maybe, this is best.
Recently I was given a complementary ticket to see the Lipizzaner Stallions perform. I have had the privilege of learning to ride English style and practiced a bit of Dressage because I enjoyed riding horses so much. So, I had an appreciation of the time and practice needed by both horse and rider to master the many movements required for this kind of performance. This takes much time, practice, patience and love of horses and the horses must enjoy it, too.. I’m thinking that most work is a combination of these elements and especially enjoyment of what one is doing.
Originally the Lippizaner Horses were trained for military service. They were used as tools in war. Now these exercises are solely for demonstration and to show the breeds intelligence and stamina. The entertainers clearly enjoy what they do and they seem to take great care of their horses.
Recently, I had the chance to visit “The Grotto of the Redemption” in West Bend, Iowa. I believe it may be the biggest in the world. It was began by a German priest by the name of Fr. Paul Dobberstein.
Fr. Dobberstein, before becoming a priest, had a great interest in geology. Just before he was to be ordained he became gravely ill. He promised Our Blessed Lady that if she would help him overcome his illness that he would build a grotto in honor of her. His health improved, he was ordained a priest and a bishop in Iowa requested him to be a parish priest in West Bend (since there was a large German speaking population there). He began his ministry there and in 1912 began building the promised grotto. He worked for 42 years on this project. It started with a grotto dedicated to Our Lady and then it grew to eight more grottoes depicting the stages in the life of Christ. Fr. Dobberstein was later assisted by Fr. Louis Greving and a parishioner, who spent their years adding their artistic touches. The stones used came from all over the world and much of the material came from local caverns and caves throughout the United States.
This project must have meant very much to these men, to spend their whole lives in it’s building. They must have found great meaning and purpose in what they were doing, much as an artist has in their work. Many have benefited by their work and have been inspired by their dedication. It is beautiful but also tells a story of the love of Christ and his message to us. This project obviously was not just a labor of love, but a gift for the benefit of others.
Contemplating the importance of work says to me that there must be initially an interest in something strong enough to move us to go beyond what we might normally do. There is a natural tendency to find what is comfortable and stay at that level. I think those interests that are just under the surface of our consciousness need to be recognized and acknowledge as our own. The least we can do is think about them. We all have to decide what is possible for us and what interests will move us.
I’ve noticed many emotions that surface in regards to work; joy, satisfaction, worry, fear and many more. I have seen people grow through their work experiences, while others who have become unhappy or ill, because the reason for working a particular job may not be the best for them. This is all a learning experience about what we do with our lives.
I hope that the years ahead finds work to be joyful, helpful to others and a means for growth and understanding. I’m learning to balance the necessity of work with the necessity of play and relaxation. May we all find that balance and beauty in our lives.
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