“work is love made visible”

From Seven Times the Sun, by Shea Darian:

Years ago my mother told me she would have been eternally satisfied being a homemaker and parent. She said her years at home, raising children, were deeply rewarding. When I heard this, I puzzled at the thought of anyone (especially my mother, the gifted woman) envisioning the rewards of her life in such simple terms. Now I know better, as I meet the daily demands of parenthood.

Chop wood. Carry water. Wash dishes. Sweep floors. Bake bread. Wipe noses. Mow grass. Pick up toys. Fold clothes. Small gestures of usefullness. Small gestures. Small. As I wash dishes, I look at my hands and smile at how much they are becoming replicas of my mother’s. I see her ironing freshly laundered clothes, slicing bread from the oven, tying the laces of my shoes. Her hands moved from task to task, as if they were opening intimately to the mystery of the ordinary.


These days as I watch my hands opening more intimately to such small endeavors, I think of my mother hundreds of miles away, and I whisper, “No greater gift could you bestow.” Chop wood. Carry water. “Work is love made visible.”[*] Our children will see it and sense it through the joy and meaning we find in our daily tasks. And they will be nurtured through these small gestures of compassion… for the way we come to small things shows our reverence for all things.

*Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste,
it is better that you should leave your work
and sit at the gate of the temple
and take alms of those who work with joy.”

–Kahlil Gibran