I’m not in the business of selling flowers, I’m in the business of saving marriages.
This line, according to a tweet I saw on Friday, was uttered by the florist at Liverpool Street Station. It reminded me of a story that David Stroud sometimes tells, of two men mixing cement.
Asked what they are doing, one sighs and says, “Well, I take this cement powder, add some sand and water, mix it up, tip it into the wheelbarrow then do it all again.” The other looks up bright-eyed and says “I’m building a cathedral!”
Both are telling the truth, but their perspectives, and thus their attitude to the work, are very different.
It sounds cynical for this florist to think she is saving marriages (men don’t only buy their wives flowers when there’s a problem, do they?), but I’m sure it helps her on those days when it’s cold and grey, she hasn’t stopped all day, her feet ache and her fingers are numb. She’s not ‘running round in circles’ she’s not ‘cutting ribbon, tying bows, then starting it all over again’; she’s saving marriages, or celebrating births, or lifting spirits.
She’s bringing joy, hope, healing.
We often hear talk of our work/careers being a ‘calling’, and it can be a huge help to understand the bigger picture of why you are where you are. I’ve never, until recently, heard anyone talk of being a student as being a calling, though.
In this post, Stanley Hauerwas does just that.
“These days,” he writes,
people talk about college as an investment because they think of education as a bank account: You deposit the knowledge and expertise you’ve earned, and when it comes time to get a job, you make a withdrawal, putting all that stuff on a résumé and making money off the investment of your four years.
This can lead to a skewed perspective, though, as though your college years are somehow distinct from the rest of your life, as though they’re a means to an end, rather than being an end in themselves.
Christians need jobs just like anybody else, but the years you spend as an undergraduate are like everything else in your life. They’re not yours to do with as you please. They’re Christ’s.
Christ’s call on you as a student is a calling to meet the needs of the Church, both for its own life and the life of the world.
Whether you’re a student, a florist, a bricklayer or a freelance writer and editor, how would it change your perspective, your attitude and your approach to remember that you’re not ‘completing a project’, ‘filling an order’, ‘doing a dull, repetitive task’ or ‘trying to make ends meet’, but ‘glorifying God’?
It’s a thought that challenges me. Any good tips on how to keep that perspective?
Picture Credit: ‘Flower stall’ by Joanna Dobson (Creative Commons)