Sunday, November 20, 2016

Work II: Expressing Gratitude Before Nightfall

Dale Matson


My first essay written 6 years ago on the topic of work can be found here:

“We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work.” John 9:4 (NLT)

I was recently lamenting the enormous amount of work to be done on our cabin property. We have had a disastrous die-off of pine trees in California these past few years and our property is no exception. Loggers have felled about 40 dead pines near our cabin and water tanks and marked another 50 trees remaining further out to be downed yet this year. With many of these trees we have removed the limbs, collected the limbs and rented a chipper grind up the limbs and broadcast the debris. This is necessary to reduce the chance of fire and reduce clutter. The logs have no market value and are simply left to rot on the forest floor. The work is dangerous, difficult and burdensome for Sharon and me. Because we are old, a workday for us is at most a 5-hour day.
Recent events have served to remind me how precious it is to be able to be able to perform hard work. One of my closest friends of over 50 years died of a heart attack. It was unexpected and sudden. Phil was the best athlete in my high school. He will never again know what it is to sweat or feel the relaxing endorphins brought about by work. For Phil, the night has come.
Sharon’s brother Jim, a marvelous and accomplished athlete was recently diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. His life expectancy and quality has been vastly reduced. Currently, his doctors are trying to get his pain medication adjusted to level where he is merely “comfortable”. His frequent golf outings, travel to foreign lands and even daily bike rides are a thing of the past. I was thinking about how suddenly and how much Jim’s life had changed. I bet Jim would love to be able to do the work we do even now. For Jim, the night has not come but is nearer.
I have another friend who has developed Parkinson’s disease. Dave was an accomplished cyclist. He rode from home to work and back for his entire tenure as a professor at Fresno Pacific University. He had completed the Climb to Kaiser several times in about 10 hours. He was only one of seven individuals to complete the Dinkey Double Century. Dave had to retire early because of his Parkinson’s limiting his energy. Today Dave still cycles but needs a tricycle because of balance problems. He has also installed an electric motor, which adds back the power he lost to his disease. For Dave the night is not here but nearer.   
I thought about these men who once all had much more skill and stamina than me. It changed my attitude about the property work that Sharon and I do from thinking about work as necessary toil to thankfulness. Being able to do work is a blessing. Some day a time will come and I will not be able to work either. Thank You Lord.   

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