In the Prologue to Finding Livelihood, I wrote, “I wrote this book looking out from where I sit at my own work desk, but this book is not about me. Let the word and images spin you off into meditations of your own experiences of work.” I’m delighted to see that this is what is really happening among its readers. I’m hearing back stories of first jobs and job searches, memories of strikes and layoffs, concerns about now and future career decisions.
Today over at Duke Divinity School’s Faith & Leadership website, Allison Backous Troy writes about Finding Livelihood within the context of her own search for meaningful work and her friend’s search for work that “didn’t kill her soul.” She reflects on her parents work and the bar tips her father used to buy groceries, even as he reminded Allison to be sure and follow her dreams when she grew up.
In "Livelihood and the path between vocation and work," Allison writes,
"After my college graduation, I thought "following my dreams" meant standing in front of a classroom on the South Side of Chicago. Then I thought it meant standing in a college classroom, teaching writing. Then I got married and moved cross-country and had a baby. But when my job fell through and my husband and I both scrambled to find work, my father's advice became a luxury I could not afford. The gap between our mounting bills and our dwindling savings became more pressing than following the confusing trail of my dreams."
"'I yearn,' writes Nordenson, 'for the inner equipping of freedom and play, time for my soul to lift and expand to all that there is, even while on the path of work. I want a place at the table where data meets humanity. I want to sing while collecting my pay.'
This is also what we want -- the place at the table, the song and the pay. The recognition not only that we have worth but that life beckons to us at the edges of our working days, our gladness and the world's hunger rooted in a longing for what Nordenson calls "the integrated transcendent life." Not a transcendence that can be discovered in self-help books or watered-down spirituality, but one that recognizes, like Irenaeus, that 'the glory of God is man fully alive.'"
I hope you’ll read more from Allison’s reflection on my book and her own work life here at Duke’s Faith & Leadership site. Allison is a beautiful writer and frequent contributor there, so click on her name to read more of her columns.
In other book news, a podcast I recorded several weeks ago is now live at Anglican Review. Michael Porter interviewed me about the book and asked several interesting questions, including one I’d never been asked before. I hope you’ll take a listen.
I also hope you scan the other interviews available on the podcast’s site. Porter interviews authors, theologians, philosophers, and others, and has an international listening audience.
[Photo: taken of geraniums resurrected after a winter in the basement; they got a slow start but now they're on their way.]