Saturday, September 05, 2009

Joy and Work

It's funny how God seems to send you little notes of encouragement when you most need them, if you open your eyes enough to see them.

As you may have guessed from some of the posts below, 1) we're having car problems right now and 2) we ain't exactly wealthy; as a result, we're going through a fair amount of angst right now, waiting to find out what exactly is wrong with our car and how we ought to deal with the problem of family locomotion in the near future. Between that and some physical (and impending fiscal) pain from a minor procedure I had this week, I've literally been sick to my stomach the last couple of days.

Fast forward to today, while I'm taking a little break from delivering mail, and I pick up a copy of Rolling Stone that turned out to be undeliverable. Years ago, I read this magazine pretty frequently, but neither my interests nor my sensibilities really line up with it anymore. However, the current issue features Stephen Colbert on the cover and, while I don't get to see his show very often because we don't get Comedy Central, I like a lot of what he represents - mostly based on Deacon Greg's fairly frequent mentions of him on his blog. What really got my attention was the description on the cover of Colbert as a "God-loving square." So, I got "ahold" of a copy and read the article. It turned out to be pretty extraordinary.

I already knew from Deacon Greg and a couple of other sources that Colbert is Catholic, but this article (in Rolling Stone of all places) illustrates just how important the faith is to him, and how unashamedly he discusses it. Looking on the magazine's companion website, I found out that he not only practices his faith, but even shares it with the next generation by teaching the First Communion class at his local parish!

A couple of things that stand out for me, especially given our family's current stress level, are Colbert's takes on work and suffering. Discussing the first, Colbert shows the author (Neil Strauss) two notes he has stuck to his desk. One says, "Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God." The other simply says, "Work" because, in Colbert's words, "nothing ever gets better unless you work." He further explains, "So I have 'work' here and 'joy' over there, and I try to put the two together somehow."

As for suffering, Colbert talks about having experienced the tragedy of losing his father and two brothers in a plane crash when he was a child and, when asked whether going through the "dark period" that resulted has helped him do what he does or made it more of a challenge, Colbert responds:
Not to get too deep here, but the most valuable thing I can think of is to be grateful for suffering... To be grateful for your suffering is to be grateful for your humanity, because what else are you going to do - say, 'No, thanks?' It's there. 'Smile and accept,' said Mother Teresa. And she was talking to people who had it rough..."
Reading this actually spoke quite eloquently to our situation, and in many ways it was exactly what I needed to hear. In sum: be glad for what you do have (even the suffering), work to change your life for the better, and - most importantly - do everything you do with joy. As Colbert says about his show, "...if you can do it with joy...then it's 'The Joy Machine' as opposed to 'The Machine.' Considering the speed at which we do it, we'll get caught in the gears really quickly unless we also approach it with joy."

Again, this really was just what I needed to hear, and from a really unexpected place. I highly recommend you read it if you have a chance!


Elizzabelly said...

I like this. Well done.

Angie @ Many Little Blessings said...

Really interesting! I didn't know all of this about Stephen Colbert.