Ironicschmoozer’s Weblog

The Work Ethic and the Shirk Ethic–a Prayer–by the Rev. Richard Gilbert

This is an excerpt from remarks given June 22, 2011, by the Rev. Richard Gilbert, at the yearly meeting of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association.  Every year we recognize those ministers who were ordained 25 years earlier and those ordained 50 years earlier.  Dick had begun divinity school as a Universalist and by the time he was ordained (1961), his denomination had merged with the Unitarians.

He’s kept very busy in his 50 years of paid ministry and retired ministry.  He says:

“Retirement is a mixed blessing. It is a full-time job, with no coffee breaks, no days off, no vacations, no sabbaticals and no pay checks. It is not for the faint of heart.  I probably have too many irons in the chalice, if you know what I mean.”

I think this next excerpt works well for those “who do too much,” those who worry and work and think we can’t ever stop.  It comes from earlier in that same talk (published in UUMA News Fall 2011).

He says:

[From] time to time I practice the shirk ethic, counterpoint to the work ethic, at which we are so proficient.
O God of Work and Leisure

Teach me to shirk on occasion,

Not only that I may work more effectively

But also that I may enjoy life more abundantly.

Enable me to understand that the earth

Magically continues spinning on its axis

Even when I am not tending thy vineyards.

Permit me to breathe more easily

Knowing the destiny of the race Rests not on my shoulders alone.

Deliver me from false prophets who urge me

To “repent and shirk no more.”

I pray for thy grace on me,

Thy faithful shirker.


1 Comment so far
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This is such a wonderful reminder for those of us who over-function at times and need to get some perspective. Thanks, Richard and Roger!

Comment by Giving Speaks

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