Wythe: Spirituality at the Workplace
“The first step to preserving the soul in our individual lives is to admit that the world has a soul also and is somehow participating with us in our work and destiny. That there is a sacred otherness to the world that is breathtakingly helpful simply because it is not us.” David Wythe in The Heart Aroused, Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America, Crown Business, ( New York, 2002), p. 280.
In his book, The Heart Aroused, poet David Wythe writes about taking our spirituality with us to the workplace where it is so desperately needed by ourselves and others. He believes that preservation of the soul means giving up our desire in the scheduled workplace not to have the unscheduled meeting. My experience as well is that God drops into my life into the interruptions not on my agenda.
Whyte believes we must relinquish a belief that the world owes us a place on a divinely ordained career ladder. We have a place in the world but it is constantly shape-shifting. Our deeper struggles can be our greatest spiritual and creative assets and the doors to creativity. The Greeks said that if the gods really wanted to punish someone, they granted that person everything they wished for. The soul’s ability to experience joy in the workplace is commensurate with our ability to feel grief. We walk into corporate offices looking like full-grown adults but many parts of us are still playing emotional catch-up from the grief and traumas of childhood which unconsciously refuse to grow any older until the trauma is resolved.
The most dangerous time for a male is around nine o’clock on Monday morning and then the few months following his retirement when more injuries and illnesses occur. One is a death caused by carrying the burden and the other the ability to live without the burden. Work almost always becomes a platform for self-righteous moralizing. Hurrying from one workstation to another, we hope the hurrying itself can grant us importance we seek. Wythe suggests that slowing for a moment, we might open up to the emptiness at the center.
Wythe reminds us how astonishing it is to see how we shrink from the things that nourish our soul and take on every possible experience to quit it. I personally did this for dream work as I became too busy in my “church work” to go to my longtime dream group. I also see this continually in spiritual direction where I have a hard time fitting my own spiritual director into my own “busy schedule.”
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