of meaning and labor

5:30 am. The alarm sounds. This time I desire to sleep through it. My normal internal alarm threatens rebellion. But I rise. Slowly, even painfully. The right elbow makes itself known this morning. The back, too. And knee. Partners in the complaint department, brigands all. I ignore them and begin my quick morning routine. By 6:15 I am out the door. Slower than normal, but that hot shower begged for prolonged attention.

The commute begins. With the radio turned on, I listen for traffic news to help determine my route. I commit to the highway, rather than one of several alternative surface routes. It only takes 45 minutes.  The work day begins.

I review my route, conduct a safety inspection of my truck and  then proceed to load  it. Then off I go.

Each day is different, but similar. I prioritize safety and efficiency. And I think. Truck drivers are capable of higher cognitive function, despite prevailing assumptions to the contrary. Shocking, but true, I know….

I think about the people Jesus misses most, who have no witness in their lives and are highly unlikely to seek out interaction with Christians on their own. I feel my responsibility before God to them. And I wonder….even as I interact with some of them during my work day.

I think about stuff that interests me as my driving permits: God, family, friends, spirituality, linguistics, philosophy, hotwheels, writing, reading, and meaning in life, to name a few….

But, while working, I mostly think about work. I aim to do my best in a way that reflects well on my employer and honors God. I am hopeful that my conduct speaks for itself.

For most of my life I have held jobs considered lower tier by most people in the culture. Warehouse, wood products production, driving, etc. But this is where I seem to thrive. I understand this culture, these people. They “get” me.

I am glad to abandon the appearance of success so that I may do life with those that seem forgotten. Whether in work or outside of work, I delight in relating to people who live in the margins, or who are foreigners to the prevailing evangelical church culture.

The day draws to a close. I pull the truck into the parking lot, back it into the warehouse, and unload it. Careful attention to paperwork and placement of product; brief communications with colleagues. Then I drive home.

Traffic is horrible. I choose a surface street route, opting for Barber and later, the much heralded Burnside. Eclectic Portland in all of its wierdness. Thankfully, I fit right in as part of the human scenery, so nobody takes much notice as I hobble from my car into a local grocery store to buy dinner. Then I complete the remainder of my drive home.

My back still aches but my elbow feels better. The knee is sketchy, but I won’t have to worry about it again until I start all over tomorrow morning. And I think.

I wonder how I might live my life with the meaning God intends for me? I wonder how I might encourage others to do the same? Suddenly my aches and pains lose a measure of potency. I begin the first steps toward engaging a dream still in infancy.

And I pray…

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