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Every Branch in Me begins with a question posed in the Preface, "What is the vocation of man?" We tend to think of our "vocation" as being our job, our profession, but this book challenges us to think of our vocation as being much more. We are asked to discover for ourselves why we are placed on this planet with an intelligence and a heart capable of grasping far beyond its physical limitations.
Yet, we are earthbound and must seek "our daily bread." The British author Brian Keeble in his essay "Work and the Sacred" (1) reveals that work is not intended to be a fruitless "branch" to be ignored as a spiritual aid, but quite the opposite:
To speak of there being a “spiritual core” to work is not only to invoke a certain image of man, it is also to hint at the existence of a subtle thread that joins the sacred to whatever demands are made upon man in order that he sustain his physical existence. It is to presuppose, in some way or other, that the spiritual forms the implicit context of our lives and that our being is not fully real without this hidden context. If this is not so then we would have to face an awkward question: how it ever came about that, in order to sustain his earthly existence, man should be obliged to follow a course of physical action that seems a direct denial of his deepest nature, as if by some ghastly mistake of his Creator it is man’s destiny to follow a direction that leads him away from the very thing it is his nature to be? If we are to avoid such a dilemma, we must conclude that in some way work is, or should be, profoundly natural and not something that must be avoided or banished as being beneath our dignity. So, we are here concerned to enquire whether, in what ways and under what conditions, work possesses a contemplative dimension.
(1) Taken from page 182 of Every Branch in Me, this chapter is also found in Keeble's Book Art: For Whom and For What, Golgonooza Press, copyright 1998, pages 74-90.