David Whyte in his poem “What to remember when waking”, writes, “What you can plan is too small for you.”
I came to this series of Psalms holding the idea that what I plan may not be big enough as I sought to discover some new thoughts about the beauty of work. These first five Psalms had themes that sought to reveal that golden thread that lies in the ordinary, everyday worklife that we contribute to.
As I was writing these first five Psalms I was seeking to discover something of the “other”, because I think without the appreciation of what lies beyond my understanding there is little that we can do to know how our work is good, bad or indifferent. Without this external reference it degenerates into a twisted madness of unrequited effort that makes turning up each day to a job a fruitless quest for meaning in which we will be unable to find any sanity.
One of poetry’s gifts is that it doesn’t “tell” us what to think. It allows us to explore. In this series I have loved exploring my own understanding of creativity. I loved playing with ideas like God giving me a nod of approval and that my creativity is birthed from shared experience with God. These are threads that have run through my life and in more recent times have become more visible to me.
Much of the world’s true beauty is what has emerged from shadow. I have seen that my appreciation of beginning the day celebrating God’s gifts, or sleeping well each night come out of times when I didn’t wake up celebrating and I didn’t sleep so well at night. In these Psalms I have not dwelt on the shadows, I look forward with the original Psalmists for the day that it’s all set right. When my work and productiveness is always held in a beautiful tension with love and creativity.
Writing these psalms has helped me to peel back a few layers around the idea of work. As I have done so some fresh understandings have emerged for me that help me in my desire to make work an continuation of my connection to God. There is art and joy and playfulness that God designed as a part of work. Sometimes there will be other things that will seek to suffocate this light. Psalms are all about asking God to set it right and to make sure that the direction of my desire is towards that inner truth that is God’s gift to his creation.
Psalm 201 – The Gift of Work
My day begins celebrating God’s gifts,
He loves the way that I was formed,
I hear his daily nod of approval,
When my plans begin with prayer,
Listening to his desires,
Work becomes my daily offering,
Of creation’s gift of creativity.
Shared with my creator’s image,
Is the gift of my daily effort,
Creator’s gifts discovering human heart,
Transforming routine drudgery,
To daily moments of pleasure,
That seek the best of life’s fullness,
My craft found in my Creator,
As together we share each day.
Psalm 202 – In praise of work
I sleep well each night,
Waking to expectation,
Knowing my plans belong to God,
Starting with creation’s imagination,
Continuing through each human life,
Gifted to our world’s loving desire,
To seek what can be given,
To the one to whom we all belong.
Each creative act I perform,
Was given by creation’s loving impulse,
I know that work is created from love,
From which each step forward is born,
Love is what sheds light on understanding,
The gift given of human thought,
That searches out our deepest desires,
To transform my uncertainty,
To each task being a balm,
That calms our world’s aching soul.
Psalm 203 – Saying yes to God
The burden of always saying yes,
Led to a daily list of failures,
That mounted up in accusations,
Each day an unscalable mountain,
Yes, was turned to death words,
That led to condemnation,
Of the impossibility of seeking to please.
I discover by going where I need to be,
But, learning to take the time to slow,
To hear what is lost in the wind,
Slowing to feel on my neck,
The sweet breath of God’s whisper,
That holy call to stay and be true,
To learn to wait before I do.
My first word today is to say, “No”,
To a thousand different questions,
That seek to bring complexity,
To what is the simple choice,
Of first saying yes to God.
Psalm 204 – When things go wrong
A thousand pinpricks are certain to kill,
Just as certain as a bullet to the head,
Each day can mounts with frustration,
Passion slowly curls up to die,
Lost in the mass of failures,
Notched up in the daily diary account.
Joy’s slow death has it’s own smell,
The putrid stench of contempt’s gaze,
That stares from its lofty throne,
I am lost in what cannot be changed,
Unless something changes in me,
Broken down, deserted for green fields,
That yield a thousand times more.
But Joy’s heart was opened wide,
To begin to restore my broken heart,
What went wrong will be set right,
As hearts combine in loving embrace,
Celebrating the meagre gifts offered,
From which something beautiful unfolds,
Promises from God are always kept,
Setting things right in Creation’s economy.
Psalm 205 – The art of work
Every morning is painted by the sun’s rays,
Earth’s heartbeat wakens to dawn’s display,
The creator’s work commences with me,
As I begin my daily quest into discovery,
Of what God brings to my life today.
My first task is to open my heart,
With eyes that see beyond a touch,
Appreciating beauty in the everyday,
With open arms to give what is received,
Love’s transforming wonder in your child,
No accidental masterpiece is ever born,
From the beginning our work belongs.
I long to combine heart and call,
To learn to appreciate each gift,
Brought to all who are called to share,
The daily tasks that become our toil,
To join with the Creator’s creation,
In appreciation of what he begun,
Is now continued by my handiwork,
Transforming every drudgery,
Into my daily crafting of love.