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This week: Building CathedralsEdited by: Sophyween
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Hi, I'm Sophyween ~ your editor for this edition of the Spiritual Newsletter.
The Rev. Scotty McLennan, author of the book Finding Your Religion, compares humanity's innate need for spiritual searching to climbing a mountain. In his view, we are all endeavoring to climb the same figurative mountain in our search for the divine, we just may take different ways to get there. In other words, there is one "God," but many paths. I honor whatever path or paths you have chosen to climb that mountain in your quest for the Sacred.
There is a well-known parable about a man who comes upon three manual laborers who are working hard in the hot summer sun. The man watches them work together for a moment, side by side, and then asks each one, in turn, what they are doing. The first one answers gruffly, without turning around or stopping his work, “I’m laying bricks! What does it look like I’m doing?!” The second one answers with a brief glance backwards, “Just making a living.” And the third one stops, smiles at the visitor and then proudly surveys his portion of the brick wall, and says, “I’m building a cathedral!”
We’ve all known people who, no matter what type of job they have, are like one of these bricklayers. In fact, I’m sure we can personally relate to one or maybe even all of them in our lives. When I worked at Disneyland right out of high school, standing on my feet all day in the summer heat, dealing with tourists and a psycho supervisor, my attitude was much like that of the first bricklayer. “I’m selling overpriced burgers to impatient tourists while wearing a ridiculous outfit, what does it look like I’m doing!?!” In grad school while working in a Yarn Shop to support Mr. Sophy and me when we were first married, I was more like the second bricklayer, working for a living to help feed and house us. In my current job, most days my attitude is more like that of the third bricklayer, the visionary cathedral builder.
I’ve often wondered if it would have been possible to be more like that third bricklayer even back when I was working at Disneyland or the Yarn Shop. I suppose it’s about attitude and perspective, as well as some maturity thrown into the mix. The hardest one for me would be to turn fast food service at the Magic Kingdom into cathedral building – the Yarn Shop is a little easier. People were coming in for yarn or other needlework to create something of beauty for themselves or a loved one – realizing that I was helping them choose the right type and color of yarn for them to knit a sweater for their first, long-awaited grandbaby could have helped sway my annoyance at their inability to “just pick a color!” into pride at assisting them to get it just right. Disneyland food service in Fantasyland, hmm … instead of impatience with the family of 5 trying to figure out what food they wanted from, may I say it, a very limited menu, perhaps I could have seen myself as rescuing a tired and hungry family, who’d saved all year to come to Disneyland, from hunger and a day-ruining meltdown? Yeah okay, I gotta work on that one.
Back to our parable – it could certainly be said that the third bricklayer saw himself as doing meaningful work creating something of beauty, while the first one did not – even though they were both doing the exact same job. So what was the difference? Attitude, outlook, and perception colored and affected the experience of their work. Or another possibility is that the third man experienced bricklaying as a calling or vocation, while the first two did not. It’s the difference between working to live and living to work. People engaged in meaningful work, for the most part are able to see the bigger picture, and either love their job, or make the best of it by acknowledging what it provides for their family, even if they’d rather be doing something else. Those who are engaged in work that isn’t meaningful for them may see their job as a means to an end, a way to pay the bills and provide food for their family, and that is what keeps them going. But if there is absolutely no passion or joy in their work, for some that can be enough of a soul-killer that they need find something else to do for a living rather than let their job continue to crush their spirit.
Which bricklayer are you? And if you are not building cathedrals, is there a way your perspective could change?
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Lots of responses to my last newsletter "Spiritual Newsletter (August 21, 2019)" about "The Power of Beauty:"
From Write 2 Publish 2020
There is a FB show called "Returning the Favor" Each week during the season (3 now) Mike Rowe finds deserving people (nominated by views) and after showing what they do, returns the favor by giving them something they need to continue to do what they do. Each week I step away from the mess on the news and grab a tissue to watch the new episode. There are times I go back and watch my favorites. One is the Garage of Blessings. Her reaction to Mike is a hoot. I used it to write a description of "emotion" once.
I've not seen the show before - thanks for telling me about!
During difficult times, I carry in my heart God, Jesus and the kindness and love that comes from my husband and a few friends. Difficult times are a tests that can either make you stronger in your faith or cause you to tremble and doubt. (Excellent article, Sophia! Your article should give everyone "pause" on how to meet challenges and difficult times.)
Thank you for the kind words, and for sharing what you carry during tough times.
Sometimes I hate listening to the news. It's so depressing, and I have to give myself a talking to. It's always seemed horrible to people, like Dickens' " the worst of times, . . .the best of times." We have to concentrate on the good every day. We can't control society or the media. We have to believe and live as though good exists all around us. The serenity prayer still holds up to every day life.
I love this - thank you so much. "Live as though good exists all around us." That's wonderful.
From Mia - in motion
Always enjoy your publications. This one is on a theme that has been very much on my mind recently. Beauty, love, the heart and truth are all one and the same within various spiritual contexts, such as the kabbalistic tradition, the chakras and many ancient writings/teachings. Lovely that you have linked them here.
Yes, it is essential that we carry beauty within us and bring it into focus in the world around us. Thank you for this reminder.
Thank you for your kind words - so glad my letter resonated with you.
These reflections remind me of Tarkovsky's film Andrei Rublev, in which the monk Andrei, in the midst of the ongoing atrocities of the Russian Middle Ages, carries the beauty of his faith in his heart, which he then expresses in his paintings that even today radiate peace and compassion.
Lovely reminder and images, thank you so much for sharing.
From sweet libya
Our ability to do beauty is much bigger than our ability to do ugliness, but for what reason the size of ugliness is much bigger than beauty's around us today?
Very true - all the more reason for us to help beauty win over ugliness!
There are different versions of tragedies, sorrows, and hardships. Relatively, some experience harsher misfortunes than others. Nevertheless, the subjects or victims of such events feel like they are alone and helpless.
Based from experience, I learned that even the smallest aspects or details in one's life, can sometimes be enough to help one emerge from drowning, resurface, and open their eyes again to the stars. A flower, the sunset, music, a friend's hugs, a child's smile. And yes, sometimes even these small things might not be enough to get through the day, but they do show that despite the turmoil in a person's mind and heart, they are proof that beauty exists. No matter what.
Amen, thank you for the reminder.
Please keep your comments and suggestions coming! Until next time! Sophyween
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