The story of any one of us is in some measure the story of us all. ~Frederick Buechner

Dirty Jobs: JPUSA Edition

We’ve experienced amazing fulfillment and divine opportunities as the hands and feet of Christ in our workplaces. Our shelter helps people find jobs and apartments. Our senior housing program provides a home for low-income elderly. We interact daily with Polish roofers and Congolese refugees. We have operated a crisis pregnancy center and an after-school outreach program for neighborhood kids.

“Can you envision your work as a holy task?” These are the opening words to Norvene Vest’s book, Friend of the Soul: A Benedictine Spirituality of Work. “Human labor is modeled on God’s labor, fruitful activity that flows forth from the essence of one’s being, as well as in beneficial care for others. Our work here on earth is ‘co-creative,’ which means it is shared with the living God.”

Norvene Vest continues: “There is an opportunity for spiritual conversion within the midst of every employment situation, no matter how difficult. In each work situation, we are invited to respond to the opportunity for our own personal conversion, praying that God will use our risks to transform the environment too. . . . Vocation is fundamentally a call to relationship.”

In community this is especially true. When we leave work we go home to the same people, stand behind them in the dinner line, go before them in the laundry room, sit next to them in church, use the same car after they bring it back, ride the elevator with them.  It’s all relationship.

Even so, it’s easy to lose sight of what we’re working for, in both senses. What is our purpose in working and to what end is our work taking us? Do we feel like what we do flows forth from the essence of our being? Stirring beans, answering phones, watching children, fixing flat tires, selling roofing materials, welcoming the homeless, unclogging pipes, the mundane and the meaningful, it’s all co-creating with God, it’s all founded on need, care, and relationship.

In this blog series we will be bringing you “Dirty Jobs: JPUSA Edition.” Ginger MacDonald will be interviewing members of the community and getting into the nitty-gritty of their jobs.

We will be getting to know our brothers and sisters in a new way. Of course, we know who repairs our cars and welcomes our visitors, but we might not know why our friends and family love the way they are privileged to serve, or the elements of their service they find the most frustrating or challenging or rewarding. We hope these stories will draw you closer to the ones you work with and also help you recognize the purpose and passion in your own vocation.

Tammy Perlmutter
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