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Who We Are and What We Do

Who We Are and What We Do
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We’re now moving into the sixth month of quarantine, and it’s looking more and more like the world isn’t going to snap back to the way it was before all of this craziness started.

I’m starting to think that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because some of the stuff going on before COVID-19 was less than desirable. For instance, I cringe when I think about all the time I used to spend commuting in my car. I don’t think I can ever go back to that soul-sucking grind.

Multiple sclerosis was the same way: It stopped me in my tracks and compelled me to analyze my life. Knocked flat on my back, I was finally faced with the truth that things had to change.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been slowly working my way through Wendell Berry’s “The Unsettling of America.” In it, Berry discusses farming, stewarding the earth well, and the value of rest, work, and intentionality.

In the first chapter, Berry analyzes our attitude toward work. He writes, “The growth of the exploiters’ revolution on this continent has been accompanied by the growth of the idea that work is beneath human dignity, particularly any form of hand work. We have made it our overriding ambition to escape work, and as a consequence have debased work until it is fit only to escape from.”

I couldn’t help but be struck by that. I know that I’ve dodged yard work and outsourced outdoor tasks I deemed “menial” to others because I wasn’t invested enough to perform them myself. For the most part, we no longer grow our own food or tend our own land beyond the superficial aspects of “curb appeal.” We’ve lost our connection to rhythms and seasons of life, forever caught up in our human busyness — a cycle both perpetual and utterly wearisome.

We know how to work according to our paltry definition of it. We are indeed busy little bees zipping from one task to another. But how much of that effort is beneficial to our souls? And how much of it is disconnecting us from the good earth beneath our feet and unmaking our best, truest, most human selves?

Solomon wrote in the third chapter of Ecclesiastes in the Bible that God “has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yes so that he cannot find out what God has done from beginning to end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man” (Ecclesiastes 3:11-15).

Only in the last few months have I had time to contemplate the wonder of eternity placed in my heart, and to take pleasure in the toil of my hands. These things are indeed gifts, as is the time I’ve been granted to realize their inestimable value. So, perhaps in those moments when we feel totally lost, it would behoove us to reconnect to the land that has continues to give us so much.

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Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Jamie A. Hughes is a writer-editor living in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, two sons, and a pair of very needy cats. She was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS in 2004 when she was just 25 years old. A lover of words since birth, she wasn’t about to let two little letters get her down. They don’t get the last word. And that’s why she writes her column — to help those dealing with MS to live more thoughtful, hopeful, and inspired lives.
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Jamie A. Hughes is a writer-editor living in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, two sons, and a pair of very needy cats. She was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS in 2004 when she was just 25 years old. A lover of words since birth, she wasn’t about to let two little letters get her down. They don’t get the last word. And that’s why she writes her column — to help those dealing with MS to live more thoughtful, hopeful, and inspired lives.
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