A Holiday Reflection

Posted by Shaun Casey
December 24, 2013
A Man Arranges Tea Candles in Germany
Whatever is foreseen in joy
Must be lived out from day to day,
Vision held open in the dark
By our ten thousand days of work.
Harvest will fill the barn; for that
The hand must ache, the face must sweat.
And yet no leaf or grain is filled
By work of ours; the field is tilled
And left to grace. That we may reap,
Great work is done while we’re asleep.
When we work well, a Sabbath mood
Rests on our day, and finds it good.

Wendell Berry, This Day: Collected & New Sabbath Poems

In the five short months of the existence of the Office of Faith-Based Community Initiatives, I have met hundreds of State Department colleagues who work extraordinarily hard to make the world a better place.  And while most of us aren’t filling actual barns, our hands do ache, and our faces do sweat in the tasks of fighting poverty, promoting an array of human rights, and building peace.  

The State Department is composed of people drawn from all the world’s faiths, as well as people who profess no particular faith.  What we do have in common is a belief that working for peace and justice are good and noble things, worthy of spending our precious time and lives pursuing.  

While our work is never completed, and people do still hunger for peace in the world, it is my hope that this holiday might be a time when we all experience something like what Wendell Berry calls a Sabbath mood as we reflect for a few moments and find the hard work being done day to day by the tens of thousands of State Department employees to be a good thing.

About the Author: Shaun Casey serves as Special Advisor to the Secretary of State in the Office of Faith-Based Community Initiatives



Maureen V.
Massachusetts, USA
December 24, 2013
The motivation being the pursuit of a better world. That is the endgame. That is the profit. That is the spirit of those who make a difference. Happy Holidays.


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