By Mrs. Honig
Leisure. The mere word evokes meaning and images from a quiet retreat in nature to taking time apart from work to spend time with family and friends. The word “leisure” comes from the French word “leisir” meaning “to be allowed”. I was instantly struck by this definition. Do we “allow” ourselves the opportunity to experience wonder and beauty only during inactivity or can we find leisure in work.
Work is defined by Merriam Webster as a) “ an activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result”, b) “mental or physical activity as a means of deriving income, employment or c) “a task or tasks to be undertaken’ something a person has to do”. Our modern society most readily identifies work as the definition cited in options b) or c); that which would involve labor, toil and drudgery.
According to the American Time Use Survey in 2013, Americans spent on average 11.1-12.8 hours per day engaged in ‘work”. It is not any wonder that most would identify work as “that which would involve labor, toil and drudgery” or “something a person has to do”. However, in the Bible God is the primary example of a worker, the Creator. And as God created us in His image, he created man to work with Him and cultivate growth and to also find goodness in it.
I believe that one can find leisure in work. I am most pointedly speaking about working with one’s hands to create something “new” from an object that has been discarded or is broken or worn. I enjoy taking pieces of old wood or metal and creating new and useful pieces. Yes it can be difficult and require long hours of labor and others may label it as “work”. But I seek to “allow” myself to find leisure in this work.
This is best accomplished in a twofold practice. First I “allow” myself to leisurely stand and stare at the object in its original form. I “allow” myself time to gently touch it and think about the original crafter and its original purpose. There is such beauty and wonder in old barn wood or antique iron planters or broken mirrors. I find great joy and a sense of accomplishment lovingly restoring these pieces and giving fresh life to what might otherwise be aimlessly tossed away.
I am profoundly grateful to experience this “leisure in work”. This effort, this work produces an unexpected reward that I had not considered. It reminds me to stop, stare and consider that I have been lovingly allowed to become restored and redeemed by the work of my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. What a blessed gift to receive.