Ora et Labora

On my computer screen there are six windows opened with writing in various stages of incompleteness.  In my workshop stand two nearly complete garden doors and piles of material waiting to be made into something.  If I just worked to complete what I’ve planned, it would take two years.

But my mind doesn’t work that way.  So far this week at a friend’s suggestion I’ve thought of three new books I could write along with two new major cabinetry projects.  By the time I catch up with my current projects, I expect to have collected a dozen more.

Sometimes I think that life would be easier if I was just obsessed by sports and spent my Sundays watching games and evenings reading stories about last Sunday’s contests. Other than mowing the lawn and changing light bulbs, I wouldn’t have to do too much.  Well, there would be trips to the store for drinks and chips.

That’s not who I am or what I do.

I am a maker. In the shop I make things that you can touch with your hand.  On the computer I put words together that build an image in your mind – a poem to share a feeling, a blog post to create a simile and a story just because it needs to be told.

It’s what I do.  Sometime I think about why I do it, but most times I end up in the same place.  I do it because that’s what I do. In a store, I’ll look at a product and think – I could make that.

Sometimes I try to bring theology into the picture.  God made us in his image.  God is a creator, therefore we must be creators to.  Perhaps a bit simplistic, but I often feel the most connected to God and the universe when I am creating something.  That sense of being at one with the world most often comes to me when I have a screwdriver in hand or I am sitting at the keyboard with the words flowing onto the screen.

At other times that feeling of being spiritually filled up comes while walking in nature or  an art gallery.  It just sets my mind free from cares, as I see possibilities.

Monastic orders sometimes viewed work as prayer. The Order of Saint Benedict’s motto is Ora et Labora – Pray and work.  I think I would have made a good monk . The act of work, creating, doing, is actually a prayer.  It can also be a mediation.  There is something about physical work that focuses the mind and soul.

It doesn’t really matter that I’ve not completed everything I’ve planned.

What really matters is that I’ve spent time in my shop, at the keyboard and I’ve been true to who I am.

Till next week,

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I worked in the high tech world doing software release engineering and am now retired. Then I got prostate cancer. Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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28 Responses to Ora et Labora

  1. Thom Hickey says:


    Of course the Rule of St Benedict works as a guide to any form of vocation.

    Regards Thom


  2. restlessjo says:

    That’s exactly it, Andrew! You’ve put everything into living your life. 🙂 And you’re still grateful for the bounty.


  3. Michael says:

    I think all of our minds work a little differently in terms of our appetite for parallel processing our moments of inspiration, but ultimately you’ve hit the nail on the head. It is when I am engaged with some creative work–whether technical or artistic– I feel most myself, and most unable to explain exactly how. We simply are who we are, perhaps echoes of One infinite, creative life…



  4. So true! My literary ‘workshop’ is full of raw materials, of half-constructed pieces and oddnesses that will never see the light of day – but some will! And when I take up one of those dangling loose ends and weave it into something I get that feeling of creation too. That’s why we do it – not to sell, or to ‘succeed’, but for the glory of the ride!


  5. Trinity says:

    I’m like you – I’ve always got a dozen projects going on, either something crafty, or writing! I have dozens of “PHD”s (Projects half-done). Variety is the spice of life, and creativity is the reflection of our Creator! 🙂


  6. Well said! As much as it would be nice to work on one project finish and repeat it’s just not reality. Shalom to you and all the things you do.


  7. Jason Graff says:

    Da Vinci said something like: great art is never finished only abandoned.


  8. Allan G. Smorra says:

    I like this post a lot, Andrew, and I understand what you are saying about the act of physical work—it goes on.

    On a side note, if I may. There is an interesting documentary from 2005 about a guy who spent a year with the Carthusian monks. It’s called ‘Into Great Silence’ and is as much about the change that happened to him as it is about the monastic lifestyle over the centuries.

    Happy Labor Day. I hope that you are resting up, or slowing the pace, today.


    • I’ll have to see if I can find that documentary, sounds interesting. And I am resting a bit today. Only built two doors and have now sat down for my tea.


      • Allan G. Smorra says:

        It is an interesting film. Hardly any dialogue, just food for the eyes & soul.


  9. I understand this well. I always have too many “projects” but I do finish some…..what matters is the creating 🙂


  10. Of course. It’s process-not-product, journey-not-getting-there. Often, I agree, but with my writing, I’ve felt a great need to tie up the loose ends of what I’ve started. I finally got one done. Now, I have three more!


  11. Excellent thoughts, Brother Andrew.
    I like the verse “He who began a good work in you, will be faithful to achieve it.”


  12. Brother Andrew does have a nice ring to it. Day to day, all we can hope for is to be able to tell the truth about ourselves, especially when we look in the mirror.


  13. Philip Smith says:

    Comforting and familiar — I identify.


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