Tuesday, August 09, 2005

longing to be more

not long ago i walked into a restroom and surprised a cleaning lady working in the middle of the afternoon. she looked directly at me until i met her gaze, then quickly looked away. from that point on she kept her eyes focused on the floor. she apologized to me. she kept apologizing as if she were inconveniencing me and as if her presence were somehow improper.

i was the featured speaker in a conference being held in the building and this woman was not expecting me to be outside the meeting room or inside her ladies’ room. she was deferential and treated me as though my value exceeded hers. i could not speak her language but wished i could let her know the work she does, the service she provides, is just as important as that of my own. even if she knew my english, i was uncertain how i could have conveyed that same message. she just kept apologizing. it felt very strange for me.

i used to be the cleaning lady. while it has been quite some years back, in a lot of ways it feels to me it was not so long ago. i entered the business world with a broom. i cleaned executive offices and wondered what it would be like to wear a suit, to be the one behind the big desk and work on issues that make a contribution to the world. and i wondered what it would be like to have people need what i have to give. i longed to be more.

now i am wearing a linen suit; i have addressed audiences across this country and also another. people hire me for what i can teach them. but i struggle to be successful in my work. i am sometimes uncertain. i work hard and often stumble. i long to be more.

until i am reminded there are those who see who i am and dream of the gift in my hands. there are those who long for the position i hold. even when i held a broom, there were those who did not have a job and envied my gift. how careless of me to spend any time outside that of appreciation for who i am and for the work i do. my friend ehj2 once wrote to me of his own meditations, “to want to be further along my own path is a form of greed. it's placing a goal above the process of achieving the goal. if i do not love the Path, if i am not following my Bliss, i will never make the destination. to think i am not enough for this moment is a form of self-pity, a belief in insufficiency and want. to think that doing more is an answer turns spiritual practice into a form of athletics..."

my work, the cleaning lady's work, your work, we all have holy work in our hands. and we have a holy gift of who we are. any time spent longing for more is time wasting our gift. and precious time away from our own holiness.

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