A few months ago I had the pleasure of working alongside 7 other women to unpack a friend’s kitchen. I imagine that we were her “Table of eight:” The first hands women reach for in time of need. We formed an assembly line to unpack, wash, dry and put away everything from fine china to mixing bowls. I volunteered to wash and rinse since I find that job strangely calming. Like many mammas who came before us, we temporarily washed away larger problems by focusing on momentary solutions.
I filled the sink with warm suds while something much bigger filled me. Feelings of peace and satisfaction led me to an old expression that played over and over in my mind: Many hands make light work. Many hands make light work. I hadn’t thought of these words for years and then, for the first time, recognized a second interpretation: Light work as God’s work. Many hands make God’s work.
I thought of women over the years who gathered in service only to be served by a sense of connection so great that it far surpassed the task at hand. I heard whispers of the “Sew n’ Sew” group that met every Monday at a local church to mend, knit and heal. Scenes of women busily crafting American flags flashed through my mind and warmed my heart. I thought of my mother as a newborn nursed by a neighbor when her own mother fell ill. I took comfort in this endless chain of asking and giving that moves through our kitchens and our lives.
I recently set out on a parenting campaign to urge parents to ask more of our children. http://www.liveonthegive.com/ I’m convinced that contribution is the solution in this age of hurried adults and achievement-oriented kids because doing good for goodness sake move us toward a larger purpose beyond ourselves. Now and then I doubt the relevance of what I have to say about contribution and my steadfast commitment to say it. But the memory of my day with Alice as one of her Table of Eight guides me back to what I know is true: The miracle is not that we do this work, but that we love to do it. -Mother Teresa
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