The Prophet of Work
I’ve spent today packing to get ready for our upcoming move to another township about 15 miles away. While spending the day doing the mindless activities of loading and moving boxes, I’ve had some time to clear my mind to nothingness, which has been nice. During the boxing of books I rediscovered my copy of The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran and got lost for a few minutes thumbing through the dust covered pages. I came across his passage of Work and since I’ve been experiencing difficulties with my career and feeling a general lack of passion I thought I’d share it. Lately, I feel a depression and anxiety because I know what field I want to be in, I have the training, the knowledge and above all the passion, but it’s delving into that profession where things become grey and confusing. Even within the professional path, there are so many avenues to explore, so for all that i’ve said that I know, I only know the tip of the ‘berg. The essential aspect though is finding meaningful work.
“Then a ploughman said, Speak to us of Work.
And he answered, saying:
You work that you may keep pace with the earth
and the soul of the earth.
For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the
seasons, and to step out of life’s procession that
marches in majesty and proud submission towards
When you work you are a flute through whose heart
the whispering of the hours turns to music.
Which of you would be a reed, dumb and silent,
when all else sings together in unison?
Always you have been told that work is a curse and
labour a misfortune.
But I say to you that when you work you fulfil a part
of earth’s furthest dream, assigned to you when that
dream was born,
And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth
And to love life through labour is to be intimate with
life’s inmost secret.
But if you in your pain call birth an affliction and the
support of the flesh a curse written upon your brow,
then I answer that naught but the sweat of your
brow shall wash away that which is written.
You have been told also that life is darkness, and in
your weariness you echo what was said by the
And I say that life is indeed darkness save when
there is urge,
And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge.
And all knowledge is vain save when there is work,
And all work is empty save when there is love;
And when you work with love you bind yourself to
yourself, and to one another, and to God.
And what is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from
your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear
It is to build a house with affection, even as if your
beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the
harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat
It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of
your own spirit.
And to know that all the blessed dead are standing
about you and watching.
Often have I heard you say, as if speaking in sleep,
‘He who works in marble, and finds the shape of his
own soul in the stone, is nobler than he who
ploughs the soil.
‘And he who seizes the rainbow to lay it on a cloth
in the likeness of man, is more than he who makes
the sandals for our feet.’
But I say, not in sleep, but in the overwakefulness of
noontide, that the wind speaks not more sweetly to
the giant oaks than to the least of all the blades of
And he alone is great who turns the voice of the
wind into a song made sweeter by his own loving.
Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with
distaste, it is better than you should leave your work
and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of
those who work with joy.
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a
bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.
And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your
grudge distils a poison in the wine.
And if you sing though as angels, and love not the
singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the
day and the voices of the night. “