cuttingwood

“But would the father have the heart to work if he didn’t have his children?
If it weren’t for the sake of his children.
And in winter when he works hard.
In the forest.
When he works the hardest.
With his billhook and with his saw and with his felling axe and with his hand axe.
In the icy forest. . . .
His children will do better than he, of course.
And the world will go better.
Later.
He’s not jealous of it.
On the contrary.
Nor for having come to the world, as he did, in an ungrateful time.
And to have no doubt prepared for his sons a time that is perhaps less ungrateful.
What madman would be jealous of his sons and of the sons of his sons.
Doesn’t he work solely for his children?”
Charles Péguy, from The Portal of the Mystery of Hope

Work grows wearisome. Virgil says that all year round the laborer “treads in his own tracks.” (Georgics, II) Often it is hard to see the point. Especially when your tracks are in the snow. Will my work every lift me beyond my work?

But work done for others can lift me beyond itself. It is more than just my work, because it is for them. Then even if I work alone, I am not alone.

The times in which we live seem to be ungrateful. Ungrateful in so many ways. But my work, faithfully carried out, can prepare a time less-ungrateful. That others will enjoy. And for this I can be very grateful; even now.

Charles Peguy (1873-1914) was a French poet and essayist. He died in battle in World War I. The quotation is from The Portal of the Mystery of Hope, trans. David Louis Schindler, Jr. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1996).

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:

Living as a Household of One

Living as a Household of One

“…and the association of living beings who have this sense—of good and evil—make a household…” Aristotle, Politics The fact is that many people today end up living in a house alone. Sometimes it is by choice. Other times it is surely not, and the house has echoes of...

read more
Restoring Respect for Elders

Restoring Respect for Elders

“Might we not say that filial piety and respect for elders constitute the root of Goodness.” Confucius, The Analects The alienation between young and old is at times palpable. It’s not usually open disdain or hostility. Rather there is a real disconnect, as each group...

read more
The Amazing Gift of Gratitude

The Amazing Gift of Gratitude

‘Do you wish to repay a favor? Receive it graciously.’ Seneca, De Beneficiis There is usually more than meets the eye in the wonderful realm of benefaction-- doing favors or good deeds for others. In any benefaction freely given there is the possibility of a unique...

read more

Pin It on Pinterest