Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Work (07/27/06)
TITLE: WORK SIMPLY
By Hariette Petersen
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“At work, baby.”
“At work, baby.”
“At work, baby.”
“I wanna go.”
“Go where, baby?”
Two-year-old Addy did roll-call every morning. Every morning it was the same. She wanted to know where everyone had gone. Her playmates were missing. She, being the center of the universe, wanted to go to work, too. If she went to work, work would be like McDonald’s or the playground. Everyone went to work. So everyone would be there. Everyone but Grama. Grama couldn’t possibly call staying home with Addy, work. And she wondered, work isn’t really a place anyway. One goes to a place to do a work, perhaps. But work is not the place. Work is the effort one makes at the place. But then again, Grampa didn’t think he worked at his place.
Grampa was a pastor of a small church in the country. And his work consisted of visiting the sick, the dying, the newly married, the recent visitors to the church. His work was sitting at his pecan desk that his grandfather passed on to him. Every morning he sat at that desk, leaned back in his red leather chair, with his legs propped up on the wastebasket. Between Chapter 6 and verse 12, he’d take a sip from his Tweety Bird mug of steaming black coffee. Most in his congregation thought he only worked on Sundays since that’s when many saw him stand and preach from his worn black Bible. No matter how much he prepared, prayed or researched, Sunday was his day of work. While to others, it was a day of rest. This particular day, he had to counsel an alcoholic, meet with the deacons, and finalize Sister Bertie’s services arrangements with the Director down at Cortland’s Funeral Home. Sister Bertie didn’t want her body being hauled to the church following the viewing hours. “No need for that fuss,” she’d said. “Just lay me out and take me to rest next to my dear Charles.” I’ve gone to church for 89 years. I will be with Jesus. He don’t need to come down here and escort my body to that hole in the ground.” Grama chuckled, remembering when Grampa had shared Bertie’s last requests to him. “And you work too, hard, Reverend. You don’t need to be running all over the town cause the Lord called me home to glory.”
Grama knew that Grampa didn’t think his ministry was work. Oh he got tired. His spirit sagged and he felt, at times, like someone had punched a hole in his lungs and all the energy he possessed went the way of a yawn. But he didn’t call it work. He knew he’d stand before the throne of judgement someday and he’d be rewarded for what he’d done on earth. But how could he call it work, when he was merely a branch hanging from a vine. The vine did all the work. The vinedresser did the pruning, the watering; he simply let all come through him and watched with anticipation as the tiny fruit grew into clusters of sweet fruit. Perhaps her son considered his job work. But, she didn’t think so. William loved his patients and felt called to giving them the best care his education and skills could provide. And William’s wife never thought a thing of sitting in front of the fireplace grading papers, reading essays and sharing stories of her sixth graders who needed prayer because they had no one to care for them at home, no one to help them with their homework.
Grama smiled. Addy sat on the counter washing imaginary grease from the canister set. Grama dried the last of the cereal bowls, then removed her red-checked apron and hung it on the black hook next to the pantry door. Addy reached out her arms. Grama met her with a big hug and received a wet kiss in return.
“Work, Grama, work,” Addy wiggled in her arms and pointed to the flower basket housing the pruning sheers and garden spade. Grama knew she wanted to dig for treasures in the sandbox out back. Grama rested in that thought as she pulled dandelions and sweet clover from the petunia beds. Before long, they would be working picking flowers, gathering tomatoes and searching for cucumbers.
“Yes, baby, we’ll go work.”
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