Saturday, May 17, 2014. Another deep med session this morning. Afterwards, I considered my upcoming (May 22) interview for a different secretarial position at the Water Department. I’m not as excited about it as I feel I ought to be.
19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Man, do I ever want to go out and smoke again. I smoked immediately before this writing.
In short, I reflected at length on the prospect of working just for a paycheck. Am I willing to want to do that? The prospect of wanting material things brings me into conflict with Jesus’ remark about “treasures in heaven.” Maybe he said that to people who obsess overmuch with material things; I have the opposite problem. See post, “Treasures in heaven.”
On the one hand, there is a strong temptation in the spiritual path to despise the material world: Paul’s constant glorifying of “spirit” over “flesh;” the admonitions to “walk by faith, not by sight” and to “seek that which is eternal” rather than that which is temporary. “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” This temptation is not just in the spiritual path: in the division of labor in the social hierarchy, those lowest on the pyramid always get assigned the most menial, dirty, disgusting jobs. Who serves as wet nurse? Who washes guests’ feet?
The most disgusting job known among my current neighbors is at the Phoenix medical waste incinerator. As far as I know, it’s staffed almost wholly by temps working twelve-hour shifts. You wear a containment suit — often defective, I’m told — putting medical waste items from whatever they’re shipped in, onto a conveyer belt that carries them into the furnace. These items include used hypodermic needles and a large proportion of — organs and body parts that have been amputated, and body parts or whole carcasses of experimental animals, such as dogs, cats and chimpanzees. There is constant risk of exposure to biohazard fluids, and the stench is beyond words.
Do I need to be willing to work there?
I began by discussing a secretarial job!
The agencies themselves that staff Phoenix, I’m not willing to work for. (See: “Must I work for Rent-A-Bum?”)
It may indeed be that I need to learn more humility. It may indeed be that learning to just plain want material things, may be humility enough.
On the other hand, a whole different angle is available. The Cayce witness is that anything that enhances the physical body (or health) is righteous, of God. So likewise testifies the Worrall witness. To love God — to love All — of necessity entails loving the material world.
Maybe I can learn to love the material world, enough to want to work just for a paycheck.
3 thoughts on “* Treasures in heaven redux”
Reblogged this on Notes From The Margins and commented:
On taking a job. Any job. Yuk.
I hope you are well and that you find work you will enjoy.
I read your recent blog comments about working just for a paycheck and that somehow feels wrong to you. Maybe this will help – as you go about your day, notice how many things we would not have if people were not working “for a paycheck”.
In the grocery store… people who drive the trucks to bring in the food, people who stock the shelves, people who cash out our orders. At the shelter, you say the meals come from area restaurants… those would not be there if someone was not working in the restaurants in the first place, to buy, cook, check people out, etc.
The sidewalk you walk on to the library, people built those and maintain them. The library itself, if no one worked there to run it and clean it, it would not be there. and on and on. Most of those people are undoubtably working “for the paycheck”, yet where would we be without them? All jobs are important to keep our world running, without them it would be …well, just imagine.
Maybe the jobs at the water department don’t seem important, but without them there would be no water department. Without the water department there would be no clean water all over town. This idea was told to me one time by my Buddhist friend when I commented that I was feeling alone in the world.
Blessings as you interview and in all of life,
First, thank you for that beautiful comment. As I mentioned to you by e-mail, I think it’s perfect for this post.
Other points come to mind.
(1) The water department is located in the Wolman Building. Concerning Abel Wolman, as I mentioned in an earlier post:
“A little-known Baltimore fact: in the block north of City Hall, the ‘municipal building,’ where you can pay your parking tickets and water bills, is named after a man who deserves to be a hero. Abel Wolman played a major role in putting chlorine into America’s drinking water. Before then, American tap water — like tap water in most other countries — was not safe to drink. Wolman’s work saved many tens of thousands of lives that would otherwise have been lost to cholera, typhus, or other deadly diseases.”
(2) Throughout my posts is a strong interest in the creation of wealth, the creation of prosperity, the creation of peace. I was reflecting just before I got your e-mail, that ANY lawful job participates in those things. For whatever reason, I was thinking principally about ditch-diggers. As meaningless as that activity may appear to be, it nonetheless creates prosperity for oneself and one’s community.
I thought I had a third point; may edit this to add that later.