Related to the work discussion is the idea about how we do our work. One of my classmates talked about how important it was for others to perceive her as hard working. I think that we often get caught up in trying to impress people with how much we work and how much we get accomplished. It seems that the monks would take the “much” out of the equation. That is, what is really important is how we do our work. If we get a lot done, but do it in destructive ways that foster division rather than connection, then the “much” doesn’t matter. If we approach each task as something to be done well, to be done reverently, to be mastered, to be done as if God was watching us, then the how matters. What is amazing is how very productive these monks are, not because they are worried about the how much, but because they are interested in the how.
One of the most striking things about the monks is how extraordinarily passionate they are about what they do outside of the prayer services. Father Paul has an amazing passion for helping developmentally challenged children. Father Theodore has an obvious passion for teaching and students. Brother Isidore has a passion for hippotherapy (using horses to help patients). For them there is no separation between their work and their spiritual life – it is the same. And so they put the same prayerful, aware attitude into everything they do.
The how matters.