My friend Kate (hi Kate!) lent me a great book while I was pregnant, called Momma Zen. As you might suspect, it’s kind of about the Zen lessons embedded within motherhood. It’s the sort of thing that can be completely cheesy and seem obvious, but that’s only when you approach it intellectually. When it finally hits you at the visceral, or even spiritual, level, then you suddenly realize how very profound a collection of mundane observations can be.
I just dug it out of one of the boxes of books we haven’t yet unpacked – there’s a good pile of those; they’re hiding in our bedroom and in a closet in our little office room so the outside world doesn’t know that we kind of burned out with the unpacking midstream – to give back to her so she can reread it. As I took it out, I started flipping back through it. I read it while I was pregnant, not actually quite a momma yet, and so many of the messages weren’t able to reach me viscerally. Now they did, each one that I glanced at as I flipped through an assortment of pages.
One really jumped out, one that I needed right at that moment. The author was writing about being at a spiritual meditation retreat. There, she was working her butt off at the various duties assigned to her, ringing the prayer bell, chanting, meditating, and so on, but towards the end of the retreat one of the masters came to her and told her, “you have one of the worst work ethics I’ve ever seen.” She was completely taken aback, knowing that she’s actually a very hard worker and certain that she’d been putting a huge effort into the work of the retreat. But, the master continues, “you have one of the worst work ethics I’ve ever seen – you turn everything into work.”