Much of life is mundane, ordinary stuff. Many tasks are necessary and vital but either lack glamour or are performed away from the public eye. These “common tasks” can be sources of great pride, joy, and self-esteem if we have the wisdom to see their significance.
There is an inherent nobility when “at our given work we do our best.” I have much greater respect for the mechanic who fixes my car right the first time than I do for the media-savvy CEO who takes personal credit (and collects obscene stock options) for a company turnaround that in truth was engineered by thousands of diligent employees working in the trenches.
Here is a poem extolling the virtue of common tasks, the everyday efforts of millions of unsung heroes who are the backbone of America. It moved me and spoke to my deepest values. I hope you find it meaningful as well.
The Common Tasks
by Grace Noll Crowell
The common tasks are beautiful if we
Have eyes to see their shining ministry.
The plowman with his share deep in the loam;
The carpenter whose skilled hands build a home;
The gardener working with reluctant sod,
Faithful to his partnership with God—
These are the artisans of life. And, oh,
A woman with her eyes and cheeks aglow,
Watching a kettle, tending a scarlet flame,
Guarding the little child—there is no name
For these great ministries, and eyes are du
That do not see that they are beautiful;
That do not see within the common tasks
The simple answer to the thing God asks
Of any child, a pride within His breast:
That at our given work we do our best.