Sunday, February 13, 2011

More thoughts on Work

Please forgive some additional thoughts on the subject of work.

When last I wrote about this subject, I wrote about the joys of iconography and how finally the work that has my name on it has manifested itself. I would like to share with my Sisters and Brothers the extraordinary events of this past weekend.

This past Friday and Saturday was the Episcopal Diocese of Sand Diego's convention. For those who don't know, I am Episcopalian. Fr. Mike, my rector, decided that we would take the icons and cards he made of the icons to convention and that I was to staff the booth. Any icon I write belongs to All Souls', my parish. They invested in my training and in return, they sell the icons and the proceeds is wire transferred to our missionaries in Kenya where the money is quite literally used to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick, provide for those unable to provide for themselves. As I have for years been quite passionate about social justice I have been so very delighted that the icons are being used to alleviate the violence of poverty.

Here in San Diego we have a store called O'Connors Church Supplies ( ). Bob O'Connor came by our table at the convention. He discussed the icons with me and then asked about how we market them. I replied that we didn't quite know what we were doing about that and we meant to have some discussions. He then mentioned to me that in addition to the store they have a 600 page catalog and a website and that they could assist with the marketing as he would like to sell our product in his store, catalog and online. He would like original icons, cards and reproductions. I kept my wits about me long enough to ask for a business card and to tell him any such discussions would have to be with Fr. Mike.

There was then a lull in the shopping as people went back into their sessions and I raced out the door to find members of my parish to babble at them about what had just happened. One of them was Fr Mike who was obviously staggered.

I was then immediately consumed with performance anxiety. How would I ever supply enough icons? I think many of my icons are hideous so how could any one want to sell them? All sorts of "i, I, I, I" thoughts dominated my thinking. By the time I arrived home Fri even I was a mess of I this, I that, I, I, I. Naturally, I emailed friends and posted on facebook and as the email conversations started and I was overwhelmed with performance anxiety, a realization dawned on me.

If this potential business arrangement is any sort of an accomplishment, it is one that was accomplished by my parish and not by me. It is a result of our particular Body of Christ being the Body of Christ, everyone doing their bit. It is because we together have been conduits of the Holy Spirit. Yes, I write the icons but in reality all I am is the paint brush, it is the Holy Spirit who is the artist. My performance anxiety is not new news to my parish. They've been helping me through it for months and thanks to them that the Holy Spirit reveals Herself in the icons. If the deal goes through with O'Connors and money rolls in to be dispersed to our missionaries, it is not because I did it but because we as a parish, we together responded to our dear Lord.

What has me wondering, and here I finally get to the subject of work, is this. Here in the USA the question "what do you do?" is a big one. The emphasis is on "my job" of "my work."Here in the USA we speak of "my job" as if we are autonomous, solely self-reliant, as if we act as independent units. I have been guilty of thinking of iconography as "my job." But what this conversation with Bob O'Connor has forced me to realize is that iconography is not "my job." If there is anything of God or of His beauty in the icons, it is because the Holy Spirit put it there and She did it as a result of the combined efforts of all of us at All Souls'.

So... isn't this true of all work we are called to do? All of us are able to do the work to which God has called us only because others in the Body of Christ are being the person God has called them to be


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