>Seeking Refuge in my Office


 My Office. Sometimes, My Sanctuary.

When Work is Rest

One little phone call had ruptured our Saturday afternoon as surely as a needle sinks a bright red balloon, draining its helium like blood from a vein.

We’d abandoned our plans and raced eighty miles to San Diego, where my mother-in-law lay in a hospital bed, her beautiful face bruised and stitched, blood matting her hair. A helicopter had carried her to the trauma center following a car accident.

A hospital may be the best place in the world to remember that I’m not in charge. Doctors determined which medications she would receive. Nurses decided when we could join her in the ICU.

We prayed on our own schedule, however.

Knowing that she needed God’s presence more than ours, we reluctantly headed for home on Sunday evening. I mined the refrigerator’s stores of leftovers and we ate something–I couldn’t say what. Finally we went upstairs and wrestled with sleep in the darkness.

Monday morning I drove to work. Amazingly, my office was just as I’d left it on Friday. Our world had shifted when those cars collided, yet this place remained the same. My stapler stood at the ready; pens lined up, primed for service. A vacation request lay in my in-basket, awaiting my approval.

I opened my file cabinet and admired the folders, neatly labeled, each one containing what it should.

I punched a few buttons and my computer screen glowed. I turned to my email. My boss needed a budget analysis. A coworker wanted clarification on a policy. The latest revisions to our marketing materials were ready for review.

I ordered the tasks set before me for efficient completion. I would line up the numbers in a spreadsheet, explain the policy, critique the booklet copy, approve the vacation request.

For the next eight hours, I knew what to do.

I took a deep breath, overcome by the sheer orderliness of it all.

On this Monday, after a weekend filled with anxiety, I saw my work in a new way. I could seek refuge here. The familiar rhythm of my job felt as comforting as liturgy; the shelter of my office was as soothing as a sanctuary.

Satisfying work blessed me. My day’s labor had been a respite.

11 He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.  12 I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; 13 moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor—it is the gift of God.
Ecclesiastes 3:11-13 (NASB)