One Advent Pondering: Work & Spirituality

Having turned in grades yesterday after a semester that kept me at a steady trot, I’m ready to enter the remainder of the season of Advent with more space for reflection than an evening devotional I do with my companion.

And though it may seem like a strange season to ponder about work amid so much practice of hospitality, of parties and gift exchanges and musing on the mystery of the incarnation, some among us might still be scrambling to get everything done that needs doing as part of the holidays.

Regardless, here are some questions that we discussed together at this fall’s oblate retreat on ora et labora, work and spirituality. I’ll share them today, and over the next several days I’ll share some of the reflections of oblates present at the retreat. It seemed good first to just open the questions out to everyone, before sharing anyone’s thoughts on them:

1. Describe how your experience of work has been affected by your life as an oblate—your prayer, lectio, or encounter with the Rule and with the Benedictine community and its values. (“Work” here means paid or unpaid labor, in or outside of the home.)

2. What do you think the greatest spiritual dangers are during the very busy times in your life? How has your journey as an oblate affected your approach to work during these times?

3. Drawing on your own life experience, what is one insight you would share with others about how to endure especially busy or challenging seasons of work? What makes it possible to live with perspective in God when you feel you can’t keep up with your obligations at work, home, and/or in your community?

Keep watch for the thoughts of two oblates who sent me a written copy of some of what they’d shared at the retreat; I’ll be posting these here soon. But they might be more meaningful after you’ve listened for your own responses to these questions, whether they arise amid a lot of holiday preparations or amid a serene unbusy space.

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