This World’s Work

Calm yourself. Listen.
What you’ll hear is the sound
of a world you did not make
but have been invited to join.
If you hear innocence then
you’re still not listening for
this is not an innocent place.
But once you hear the singing
of underground miners picking
toward the prize then you know
you’re on the right track for
there is work to be done, hard,
filthy, oh-my-aching-back labor
to find the veins of hope and
then carry it to the surface.
This has long been this world’s
honorable vocation, the work
that both satisfies and sustains.

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  1. Ann on March 24, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    and thank you. thank you.

  2. mike graves on March 24, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    If today you hear his voice
    Good to hear your voice John, keep on keeping on,we need you

  3. Gwen Acres on March 24, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    …to find the veins of hope and then carry it to the surface…
    Beautiful picture! Thank you!!

  4. Patricia @ Pollywog Creek on March 24, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    Oh, my yes. To ‘”find the veins of hope and then carry it to the surface.” Thank you for the mining, John.

  5. MJ on March 24, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    Have been waiting for another poem. Worth the wait. Thank you.

  6. Sheila Seiler Lagrand on March 24, 2015 at 7:11 pm


  7. Michele Morin on March 24, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    Good words. Thank you.

  8. pastordt on March 25, 2015 at 3:41 am

    Shared this today at my spiritual directors’ retreat – perfection. This is the kind of work I try to do — mining for hope and grace and goodness and love. Thank you.

  9. jodyo70 on March 26, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    John, your metaphors leave me sighing at their beauty.

  10. wynnegraceappears on March 29, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    This is a new favorite.
    You offer up so much here.
    grateful, very grateful

  11. Him on March 30, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    Wow. Thank you.

  12. kate on May 27, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    Thankful for this.

    Somehow, it also makes me think of Robert Morgan’s “The Grain of Sound.”

    A banjo maker in the mountains,
    when looking out for wood to carve
    an instrument, will walk among
    the trees and knock on trunks. He’ll hit
    the bark and listen for a note.
    A hickory makes the brightest sound;
    the poplar has a mellow ease.
    But only straightest grain will keep
    the purity of tone, the sought-
    for depth that makes the licks sparkle.
    A banjo has a shining shiver.
    Its twangs will glitter like the light
    on splashing water, even though
    its face is just a drum of hide
    of cow, or cat, or even skunk.
    The hide will magnify the note,
    the sad of honest pain, the chill
    blood-song, lament, confession, haunt,
    as tree will sing again from root
    and vein and sap and twig in wind
    and cat will moan as hand plucks nerve,
    picks bone and skin and gut and pricks
    the heart as blood will answer blood
    and love begins to knock along the grain.

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