It’s the feast of St Joseph today, patron saint of workers because he was (apparently) a carpenter and one of the great supporting actor roles in history. In the glitter world the ego likes to inhabit or (if it is not strong enough to inhabit) to fantasize about inhabiting, all that matters is the Oscar for the main role.
Less confident egos may still be controlled by delusions of control and superiority without having the means or daring to show it. What matters is not so much the degree of fame or approval, which every ego, weak or strong, feeds on, but the work actually being done.
Is something being made that will outlive us because it transcends our ego? Whatever the ego inhabits will fall when the ego falls.
In the end the prize goes to those who have done something with their opportunities and not invested themselves in unreal derivatives and short-term smash and grab raids on other people’s resources. Words and ideas can be very powerful forces but in the end what matters is action not words.
If we understand that the times of meditation are times of pure action, this will help calibrate all aspects of our lives and keep the pulse beat of reality steady. The point in life when we see the nature of the inner work is the true centre of life’s narrative, the turning point, conversion. It may come as a wake-up call in middle age or we may be graced with it early in life. It is the moment we realize that there is a whole other floor to the house of the self we inhabit. Slowly we sense it is even bigger than the rest of the house - which feels odd at first and then exhilarating.
The carpentry of life carries on as usual but its meaning is highlighted. What matters, when the spirit has been awakened, is not who gets the Oscar but if we are doing what we are meant to do.
It is a great grace to understand why daily meditation is the primary work of life.
Laurence Freeman OSB