Getting a living is, consequently, only one term of an equation. The other, is the man's conception of himself. It may be that he lit erally sells the strength of his body for two dollars per day, not realizing that the strength of his body is but the smallest part of the possessions he is entitled to claim. Or, he may sell the strength of his mind exercised in one particular function; for example: teaching a language, again not realizing that a profession dealing with an accumulation of facts is but the smallest part of his kingdom. Or, in either case, he may proceed by disposing of a portion of body strength or of mind strength, that he may reserve to himself some hours for such converse and activity as present to him the possibilities of the greater life.
Now the greater life may be lived not only by the great, but by the very humble. Simple labor is nothing in itself, but everything in the purpose which it serves. While it would be a Utopian condition that would permit all of us to escape the work of the hands, it is, happily, true that the work of the hands is as ennobling as any other. Forever and ever there must be hewers of wood and drawers of water.
"I always feel," said one woman, "that the kitchen degrades me." "I always feel," said another, "that I en noble the kitchen." In the first instance, a clouded mind entered the room; in the other, an understanding mind.
The one sees in clear vision that kitchen work and all of its kind is a work of true serv ice, for it contributes its indispensable quota to the comforts and necessities of life.
When a man preaches on Sunday, we call him a minister. So, likewise, let us call them ministers who contribute kitchen work and its kind seven days in the week.
Wood must be hewn and water drawn.
Such tasks can appeal to the full capacity of a man's power to do. Lacking the capacity to do, he does not see things in true relation. Then he is degraded, and if he is imaginative he will become discontented.
It is all in the point of view. It consists either in seeing the task clearly and permitting it to call one out fully ; or, in not seeing it clearly and losing the promise of the culture it contains.
Hence there is no necessity to join a club for the improvement of society until we have made it a habit to withdraw into our closet, there to pray for light and to fight for the supremacy of common sense. It is within us somewhere. Let us find it and put it to the work.
This is the great fight. It is great in that it establishes us in true relation to the world of men, things and duties. It is a fight, because fear of it makes cowards of us all. Under taken fearlessly it will teach us these things : That labor of any kind can be done so well as to make people ask about the man who did it.
That labor nobly done calls nobility out of the laborer.
That when a laborer manifests nobility while digging a ditch, he must necessarily be a nobleman.
That noblemen are created by the fiat of the spirit within, and not by the mumbling utter ances of a man called a king.
In this nobility of labor, there is found all that a man should desire in getting a living, for getting a living is finding an abundance of life.
So again it all amounts to this : In everything a man does well, his qualities show unmistakably.
Qualities are spiritual realities.
Work well done is the outer visible symbol of active spiritual realities.
This is what lies back of the story of the creation in Genesis : The spirit of God moved and worked, and the voice of God pronounced it good.
So may the spirit of man move and work; and all other men will look upon the work of his hands and pronounce it good.
The only menial quality about any form of work is the mind of the one who rebels at the justice and necessity of doing it.
When we wish to pray let us enter into our closet. When we wish to praise, let us enter our kitchen.