How would you define “productive contribution”? Seth Godin, in his book, The Practice, shares the following:
Most of all, he shows you what it takes to turn your passion from a private distraction to a productive contribution, the one you’ve been seeking to share all along. With this book as your guide, you’ll learn to dance with your fear. To take the risks worth taking. And to embrace the empathy required to make work that contributes with authenticity and joy.
On a walk around my neighborhood, I listened to The Good Life Project podcast, Jonathan Fields, interview Seth Godin.
I’m not an expert after listening and learning about productive contribution, but my heart and mind heard a message. Each of us wakes up and produces and contributes. Maybe you are a chef, a secretary, or a student. Maybe you are elderly and housebound due to health concerns. Maybe you are a new born baby that just entered this world. Some contributions are tangible, like a a chef who just prepared a delicious meal. Other contributions are shared but unspoken-intangible.
Yesterday, we visited my uncle Eugene and his family. Due to his health concerns and COVID-19, we had not visited in awhile. While practicing social distancing, we enjoyed a meal and shared stories. My uncle Eugene has an amazing talent and productive contribution of taking wood he has found on his farm and carving what he sees in the wood beyond its current state. I noticed an interesting carving, and we began to talk about his work. That’s tangible. His work has blessed our world and our homes.
The love unspoken is the flood of memories that overtake you while you are with someone and after you leave. Over 32 years ago, Parish and I announced our engagement in their kitchen at a Christmas gathering. My sister-in-law, Marie Lloyd, had a family bridal shower on their carport over 40 years ago.
Lee and Eugene would share a story then pause and say, “I’m so glad you came to visit today.”
I tried to find a clip of the ending of Call The Midwife, Season 2, Episode 6. I had settled in for the night after our visit and wanted to go back to older episodes of this amazing PBS masterpiece. They follow a story or two with an ending that captures love, life, and community. It’s not always a happy ending, but there is always a shifting of mindset or a lesson learned. A father and daughter saying goodbye while the daughter gives birth to his grandson was the story that moved me to a much needed cry. Remember in the 50’s in London, women had their children in their home with a midwife. The coming into the world of her son, and the saying goodbye to her father in the next room was captured in a deeply moving way. The intangible.
Mr. Masterson regains consciousness just in time to see his grandson, and Sister Julienne lays the newborn on his chest. Mr. Masterson is moved to tears. He tells the baby that he’s “very pleased to meet [him]”. An exhausted Julia arrives in the room, and sits by her father as he tells the baby to look after his mother, and to help her around the pub as she once helped him. Mr. Masterson dies quickly soon after, much to his daughter’s agony.
In voiceover, Jenny narrates that “The world is full of love that goes unspoken. It doesn’t mean it is felt less deeply, or that separation leaves a cleaner wound”.
After the funeral, it is revealed that even though they were estranged at the time, Mr. Masterson left “The thing he loved most, to the person he loved most”. He leaves Julia his pub, thus making her and her son’s future secure.
I’m interested in reading Seth’s book to learn more about how I can engage in the tangible of productive contributions I’m involved in at work and home. However, my greatest and deepest longing is to recognize with great joy and reverence the intangible contributions that reside deep within a moment. Some intangibles are not recognized until years later when you are sitting at a table with your husband of 32 years remembering your engagement.
You can live life in a hurry and focused on the next thing that you miss these contributions. I have found that even when we don’t focus on them, they eventually spring up in your soul when you are ready to notice them.
Be present, realize that your soul contributes, and ask God to help you love through His grace.
“Was it love of people?’ I asked her.
‘Of course no,’ she snapped sharply. ‘How can you love ignorant, brutish people whom you don’t even know? Can anyone love filth and squalor? Or lice and rats? Who can love aching weariness, and carry on working, in spite of it? One cannot love these things. One can only love God, and through His grace come to love His people.”
― Jennifer Worth, The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times
If you are in a career or life story in which it is difficult to see the love of God in it, consider the above quote from the work of the midwives who helped those in poverty live a better life. We can focus on the hard things within our contributions, or we can ask God to help us see and know the love unspoken.