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In days to come

by davesandel on December 3rd, 2018

In days to come

Monday, December 3, 2018

In days to come, many peoples shall say, “Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.” – From Isaiah 2

Margaret called to me, “I’m out of your way.”

“Should I start cooking?”

“Any time.” I’m making liver and onions, with bacon, peas and boiled potatoes. Margaret doesn’t want to handle liver on the same day she eats it. So that slimy task falls to me. I don’t mind. I like being needed.

Who doesn’t?

In his new book Them: Why We Hate Each Other and How We Heal, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse quotes Arthur Brooks, “Work is where we create value with our lives. Properly understood, work is the sacred practice of offering up our talents for the service of others.”

In other words, as an enthusiastic bedbug exterminator exclaimed to Brooks, “I am needed. I have a purpose. I’ve become a go-to guy for the company. These people need me. I’ve never had that.”

I’m getting better at the liver gig. Even before opening the white butcher paper-wrapped package, I cut it into thirds. And then as the manageably small, thin pieces of liver are fried in the bacon grease, I put them on top of the fried onions, and then small pieces of bacon on top of that. I keep layering until all the liver is soft, tantalizing, and piled high. Wonderful flavors, smells, textures. And at the table, alongside the potatoes and peas, it is still hot.

Being German on both sides, I’m “blessed” with the Protestant work ethic. If I make the right kind of list, I usually get the work done and am ready to start fresh the next day. But what I do not do enough is “climb the Lord’s mountain.”

That’s a different kind of work. Mostly, it requires that I sit rather than move, and quiet my mind rather than engage it to solve problems. In this work I feel rich and satisfied. I know the value of my life. I am appreciated by God and by those I can more easily pray for. I breathe more deeply. I wait, while the rebirth of wonder that I crave rides up alongside me. “Come on!” God cries. “Follow me.”

This mountain-climbing is the foundation of everything. When I walk in God’s path, instructed in his ways, I do not get lost. I am less compulsive. I feel my kinship with all God’s family, and I consider more carefully the work of my hands.

Maya Angelou wrote:

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet,

Whose hands can strike with such abandon

That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living

Those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness

That the haughty neck is glad to bend.

Out of such chaos, of such contradiction

We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it, we, this people …

*      *         *

There it is, Lord. This is how you make us to live, day by day. Seeing thee more clearly, loving thee more dearly, following thee more nearly, while you establish the work of our hands, O Lord.

 Ben Sasse, Them: Why We Hate Each Other – and How to Heal, p. 65, 2018

Maya Angelou, “A Brave and Startling Truth,” 1995, from The Complete Poetry, 2015

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