I don’t like writing about my work; my job is difficult and hard to put into words. It also resists compartmentalization, so I often find myself talking around it a lot, poking it with words until sometimes someone else goes, “oh I get it.” I have to take their word for it; after 4 years in my current job I don’t think I really get it myself.
Maybe I talk and write about it so much — despite my hesitations — because my work affects so many areas of my life. Or maybe I chose this job (such a privilege, to choose one’s line of work!) because it flows out of the values and preferences of my heart. Perhaps talking about my work serves as a proxy for deeper subjects that I can describe even less well or not at all. Maybe it’s just a bad habit.
Or maybe it’s a bit of everything. I can’t decide.
Last week, a high school student heard we were hiring new staff at my workplace and wrote me this haiku:
“Mr. Bob is cool. A new
Heart a new warmth.
Good luck at a new job.”
My job isn’t changing, much. And I’m not that cool. My heart isn’t warm much of the time and certainly isn’t what anyone would call new. The syllables are off, but there are 17… I sat at my desk this morning staring at the haiku for ten minutes, wondering what to do with it. It was written in purple marker on a “fan” of pink 3″ x 5″ notecards stapled together, “in case you get too hot, you can fan yourself.”
But in spite of the ungainly delivery, the sentiment is striking. It pierces my heart, somehow. As I wrap things up after another semester working with adolescents and prepare for a long journey to be with my family for Christmas, I need a little love. Not a grand gesture, but something faltering. Something with the word “hart” scratched out and “heart” written beneath it. Something fragile. I tuck the pink and purple fan into my vertical file, right next to my computer screen
I’m thinking about the Christian idea of incarnation in a fresh way this morning. Pleased as man with man to dwell, and all that. Entering in with vulnerability. Using fragile means towards powerful ends.
Happy Christmas, everyone.