We pray quite often to be used for something. We don’t always know what we want to be used for, we just know we want to be useful. We think we have found that use with our little elder home, but on some of the rougher days, we are just not sure. There are not many things more crippling to the spirit than the thought that you might go through life and have it mean nothing in the end. We long to be useful to someone, anyone. Some of us long for greatness, some toil in obscurity. The husband and I are not looking for riches or fame, we are not interested in a life of leisure. We want to be used. We want to go to bed tired and happy.
To Be of Use
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
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 froward,
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 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
is a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras 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.