This powerful poem by Marge Piercy invites us to ask the key question to a meaningful life.? I recently re-read this poem and reflected on what the world needs from us.
To Be of Use ?
The people I love the best
jump into work headfirst
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half submerged balls.
I love people, who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who stand in the line and haul in their places,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphora’s for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.
Have you ever clearly known what the world needed from you?
American writer Frederick Buechner observed, “The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet,” (Wishful Thinking, 1973). When we align our own passion and abilities with a need the world has, we experience the deep gladness Buechner talks about.
My friend, educator extraordinaire Angela Maiers puts it this way?- Each of us has a contribution to make: Our contribution is where our passion meets a heartbreak of the world.
Here are four steps to finding this sacred space.? We all need to practice this regularly.
1.?? ?Find your passion. This is all about your great love, and what makes you come alive. What could you talk about for hours? What would you do for free?
2.?? ?Find your strengths.? What are things you’re naturally good at?- your unique strengths – the gifts you could contribute to the world.? You might want to ask your friends or family what they think you’re naturally talented at.
3.?? ?Find your heartbreak/your hunger. Where is the intersection between what you’re good at and what the world needs. How are your talents bound up in other people’s genuine needs? Think about the benefits you’ll give others by contributing your value.
4.?? ?Make the commitment. We often fail to succeed because we fail to commit.? It takes an uncompromising commitment to path one’s path.
There is no life without a task and no person without a talent.? Our talents, our gifts are bound up in other people’s needs and the needs of the world. But can we hear the still small voice calling us: “There is an act only we can do, and only at this time, and that is our task.”
Irwin Kula is the co-founder and co-executive editor of The Wisdom Daily. A rabbi, Irwin’s writing has been featured in The Huffington Post and the Washington Post. He is the author of Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life and a co-editor of The Book of Jewish Sacred Practices. Irwin has appeared on NBC’s The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The O’Reilly Factor and PBS Frontline. Irwin also serves as President Emeritus of Clal, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, a leadership training institute, think tank and resource center in New York City.