Work, why work?

Since 2012 I have been retreating at least once a year to the Sanctuary on top of the Muela near Sant Llorenç de Morunys, Catalonia, for «ora et labora» periods. Because of the pandemic, I haven’t left Stockholm since March 2020, so I longed very much after this year’s retreat.

I just left the Sanctuary, where this year’s discernment was on «Work! Why work!». I just begin to glimpse some new insights on this issue and I have no clue about the consequences this will have for my presence in the «market of change».But I can try to share something of what I glimpse.

Life at the Sanctuary oscillates between ora and labora, between being and doing.

Ora is about being, meaning silence, meditation, suspension of inner noise and judgement, surrender to complexity, … and prayer if you believe in God.

Labora is about doing, meaning work in the fields or with the animals, maintaining the buildings and installations, cleaning the rooms in the guest-house, cooking, harvesting, preserving, chopping wood, … anything that contributes to the community being as self-sufficient as possible. And for some, the specific work they may have like sister Mar painting icons, Çesc studying to become a priest or father Joan attending the existential and spiritual needs of the guests.

Nothing new so far, apart from surprising intensity, depth and serious playfulness with which they strive to live through the oscillations between ora et labora, being and doing.

This time I experienced as a source of peace something that in my earlier visits has been a source of frustration. I have until now perceived the bells calling to ora (being) every few hours as an interruption of labora (doing).

The bells calling to ora became this time a recurring reminder that life is about being in action, that there is no purpose to doing anything if it is not an expression of being.

A further learning that I see as very difficult to bring to my life is that the bells calling me to being (ora) also call me to leave whatever I am doing (labora) even if it means that I will need to start all over again.

The call to detach myself from outcome, that I have heard so many times without really understanding, becomes a several times a day practice. This is very far away from the procrastination I am prone to do.