Is Work Devouring Your Spiritual Practice?

Is Work Devouring Your Spiritual Practice?

Lucky the lion the human eats; the lion becomes human.

Unlucky the human the lion eats; the human becomes lion.

I return to these two lines* from the Gospel of Thomas over and over thinking about which I want to be more powerful in my life–my work or my spiritual practice?

This saying gives me the instruction to allow my work to be “devoured” by my spiritual practice.  How do I do that?  By making everything I experience in my work part of my spiritual practice.  First, I decide that it is, and then I act on my decision by taking every issue that arises for me in work as seriously I do my prayer-practice and the meditative reading I do before I begin work each day.  I devour my work with devotion, reliability, humility, and the sense that at every instant, I am moving closer to G-d.  Work, predictably, disappears.  It becomes wholly spiritual practice.**

Too, think: what is being devoured nourishes what is doing the devouring. That’s why it’s lucky.  It gets to become part of something Important when for the most part we need reminding that what happens at work isn’t very important.

The bigger fish eats the smaller fish, as you know:

Emblemata Politica In Aula Magna Curiae Noribergensis Depicta by Peter Isselburg, page 36, “Minor esca maioris” (the small is eaten by the large). Source: University of Illinois.

So I decide, over and over, as a working spiritual woman: which is the bigger fish?  Clearly, it’s my spiritual life, into which is placed the nourishment of my work in service to others, my vocation.

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*The two lines given are my version from several different translations, including this physically beautiful word-for-word translation with the Coptic directly above it.

**You might like Brother Lawrence’s Practicing the Presence of God, a seventeenth-century French monk who devoured his work in the monastery’s kitchen.

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This post was inspired by my soul-colleague S., who has a beautiful, deeply developed spiritual practice and an amazing organization…that comes complete with personnel and accountability challenges.  Written in the aim of helping us both nourish the big fish.

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