Monday, February 9, 2009

Working in the Fields

With winter weather, early darkness, and cold frozen snow driven by rambunctious winds, it encourages those of us who are ancient to hunker down inside our home, snugly wrapped in down-filled comforters, close to heat registers sipping honey-laced tea. In the hours east of midnight, old black-and-white television movies serve as company for those who struggle with erratic sleep. On one such night, a movie strikes a chord and awakens thoughts and images that are interlaced over a lifetime.

We learn early, events go by at the speed of life and one does not recognize or is preoccupied with other priorities that detract from fully appreciating the lessons being learned. As each day unfolds there is an agenda to be followed and the ramifications of the tasks, labors, and interactions connected minute by minute go unnoticed. Awareness is usually self-directed toward objectives or goals in order to achieve desired outcomes. Regardless of age or station in life, each of us proceeds according to our means, capabilities, skills, and interest. Subconsciously, we put forth an allotment of energy, effort, importance, and time in order to satisfy our individual standards of excellence. Hectic daily chores, interruptions and random distractions are inevitable causing one to become sidetracked or lose focus requiring redirection as we toil in the fields.

How many activities and duties performed over a lifetime are viewed as insignificant, drab, unglamorous, and unimportant? Like a tenant farmer sowing his fields we follow patterns, routines, sameness—trudge along well-worn ruts as we live out the hours of each day. How long does it take before one realizes that every moment in life is ripe with opportunity, potential, adventure and the magic of human goodness? Once understood, these gifts have to be accepted and embraced. What does it take to change inconvenience to opportunity, disruption to welcome, uninteresting to joyful and work to love? At what point in one’s life does the transition take place changing shadow to sunshine, sorrow to gladness, oneness to unity, anger to forgiveness, selfishness to sharing and sadness to laughter? What does it take to transform meaningless to meaningful?

From our earliest years, we are encouraged to “count our blessings” be humbled by ordinary moments that become extraordinary memories. As we labor in the field we are taught to remove unwanted weeds in order to cultivate good growth. Over thousands of years, Biblical words and parables convey wisdom to insure a bountiful harvest. How many times in life have we witnessed a weed become a rose, an unwanted event become a valuable lesson, a painful experience leave us with renewed strength; and personal tragedy fill us with Faith? What is the magic and mystery of working in the fields, day after day struggling to meet obligations, duties, responsibilities and commitments? From what source is the spirit replenished when fatigue, despair, loneliness, and illness challenge one’s will to continue?

We find solace and take comfort in unexpected places that previously went unnoticed. Strangers thrown together in similar situations develop common bonds and help one another--some become friends: small acts of kindness—giving without hope of receiving; lending a helping hand in moments of need, listening to others who have no one else to talk to; sharing conversation with outsiders who seek reassurance and validation of personal worth. Like tending a garden, each snippet of human interaction nurtures the spirit and strengthens character. Throughout life we carefully tend the fields, hoping our efforts will bear the fulfillment of dreams and reward us with bounty promised ages ago. Like children we are filled with anticipation and excitement savoring the bountiful harvest from our endeavors. After many years, we learn that many weeds—unwanted initially-- are worthy of care because they, too, have importance to our lives. Their diversity awaits discovery by those who follow our labors. We also learn that growing among the weeds are elegant lilies of the field: jewels to tease sunshine from the sky above and within ourselves

The richness of one’s life is a mosaic of diversity: work, play, rest, prayer, and belief in all that is good. The wealth measured is one of purposeful actions, thoughtful considerations of others, moments of conveyed appreciation and kind words; and the abundance of bounty harvested from working in the fields.

Where's Al going to be next???

Check back soon for his next appearance at a location near you!