Sunday, September 28, 2014
Retirement has given a different lens through which to see the world. One of the things seen differently is the reality of hard physical work. The world in which I worked for almost forty years was filled mostly with white collar people. This is not to say that white collar people do not work hard, or do not have a strong work ethic. It is simply a way of recognizing that while white collar people work, they do not usually get their hands dirty; nor do they have to change shirts during the day because the one from the morning has been saturated with sweat through and through at least twice.
When I retired, I lost my white collar. The work I do gets me dirty and sweaty, but still it is voluntary. It is not like the young woman who served us breakfast the other morning just before sunrise at a Waffle House in western Louisiana. Her ten hour shift started at 9 pm the previous evening and when she poured our coffee, she still had an hour to go before punching the time clock. After ten hours on her feet serving customers in all kinds of dispositions, she had good reason to look overworked and worn out. Still, she managed to be both friendly and caring about our needs.
Since Jesus grew up in a carpenter's shop and in a home of meager means, He likely had a better grasp of the value of hard physical work than most of us who just wear out the white collars. He evidently was drawn toward those who got dirty and sweaty as He made fishermen disciples and leaders of the church. When I view the loss of strength within the United Methodist Church where I have served over forty years, I wonder if it is not because we have done a very un-Wesleyan thing. As we became content with attracting the white collar world, we seem to have forgotten our parish which is as John Wesley put it, the world.