My co-workers: no ordinary people

Laborare est orare – To labor is to pray – said the monks. I must confess that job enjoyment is something that has for most of my life escaped me. At work, I am prone to one of two attitudes. Most of the time, I’m wrapped up in intense labor, tapping on my keyboard, furiously IM’ing with co-workers, reading technical requirements, and forgetting about God all the day. Other times, I am slothful and ready for the weekend to start on Tuesday. Busy or not, my fellow workers often seem to me a hassle.

And so I’ve begun putting Bible verses on my bulletin board as ongoing reminders. The first thing I put up was this wonderful application from one of the greatest “sermons” ever given. C.S. Lewis delivered The Weight of Glory in a lovely Oxford church on June 8, 1941 (if you are ever in London, take a train to Oxford and visit St. Mary’s). Lewis wrote so many marvelous things, but with its glorious ruminations on heaven, I think it was his most exalted meditation.

The bolded part of this quote from Weight of Glory, along with associated verses from 2 Corinthians 4, now adorns my bulletin board. It admonishes me to treat my co-workers as image-bearers. Perhaps it will bless you, reader, as it has me, time and again:

It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. The load, or weight, or burden of my neightbor’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruptions such as you now meet, if at all, only in nightmares. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendshsips, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of the kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously — no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner — no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses.

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