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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

The Idolatry of Work

Don't let your work become your cubicle.

Spiritual Practice

Cubachail: quasi cubiculo ('a narrow place') - a 'bedchamber,' 'a cell in a monastery'

  - Cormac, Glossary (Irish, 10th century)

What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils under the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation.

  - Ecclesiastes 2.22, 23

Interesting that, in Cormac's day, when he was compiling his Glossary to rescue from disuse words that he thought should be preserved, the idea of monks laboring alone before the Lord in prayer, in their own solitary cells, seems to have been passing away. Or at least the use of solitary cells by the Lord's servants was becoming less common.

That, after all, was a hard life: labor all day in the fields or at teaching, observe the divine hours of intermittent daily prayer, study Scripture and work at book copying in the Scriptorium, eat a meager meal, then retreat to your cell for silent meditation, prayer, and rest. It was a tough life, to be sure, but Celtic Christians signed up for it by the multiplied thousands.

These days when we think of a "cubicle," we probably think of Dilbert and the drudgery of meaningless work. Still, people work, devoting all their best strength and attention to what they have to do to get a paycheck so they can pay their bills and consume what they want.

For most people work is so draining that, when you factor in family time and personal recreation, they have little time for much else. Even Christians are mostly too worn out to contribute much of their time to spiritual disciplines or personal growth or the work and mission of the Church.

Work in our cubicles has become the consuming concern of our lives, bordering on - if not actually representing - a form of idolatry.

But does work make us happy and give us the kind of deep-seated soul satisfaction those ancient monks, laboring in their own cubicles, knew every day of their lives?

Try thinking about this way: Would you give your life for your job?

No, I didn't think so. So if your life is more valuable than your job, shouldn't you be trying to put as much into your life as will enrich and enlarge it, and fit you to contribute something wholesome and lasting to others?

Of course, yes, I know - we all need to work. But don't let your work become your cubicle. Get with the Lord in a cell of your own, and, in His presence, sort out the proper place of your job in your life, so that you can make sure that you leave the best of your strength and attention for the Kingdom work that alone will last.

Today at The Fellowship of Ailbe

The Pastors' Fellowship - This month we're discussing "Dealing with Temptation" in our online discussion forum. You can sign up by going to the website or sending me an email.

ReVision - I'm a little fed up with the hubris of scientific types, as you will see.

In the Gates - We're looking at the role of the Law of God in shaping our relationships, so you'll want to have a look.

Bookstore - Hey, browse the bookstore and get something good to read for the summer.

T. M. Moore, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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