Story, Value, and Becoming More Real
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A Song for Lancia – This is the Work

September 22, 2018

Lancia E. Smith

This past summer Matthew Clark and a group of our friends conspired to surprise me with something I have never received before – a song custom written for me! Words fail to describe how astonished I was when they presented it, or how humbled I still feel every time I play this. 

The significance of this phrase – This is the work – stems from a pivotal conversation had a few years ago between me and my two writing companions. At that point, we met together every few months for 3-5 day blocks (which we called Summit) to work on our respective writing projects. Beneath that fundamental purpose though, we also met for nurture and friendship. During one of those precious Summits, one of them had a difficult emotional reaction to recent hurts and apologized for “distracting” us from the work we were there to do. I remember that moment still as vividly as if it happened last weekend. Before I knew it almost, I replied that it wasn’t a distraction from the work we were there to do, but that “This is the work.” Mending the hurts is a labour of the Lord’s great restoration in this world and we are invited into that great labour. It is grace. It is the great, abiding artwork in which we will each participate or forsake for lesser works.

That conversation in my kitchen changed the way I see all our creative works and the purpose of our lives. It changed in a single moment the way I see the purpose of my own life. I look at that phrase every day as those words sit on my desk right above my monitor. They remind me that the work of restoration and the cultivation of well loved relationships is the great work and any other work I do must ever and always serve that one first. 



This is the Work

This is the work, the work that we’ve been given
To lay the dying seed to rest, broken open, poor and blessed
This is the tale, where the ending marks beginning
Watch the soil you’ll see it break, blossom in a burst of grace
So we’ll cultivate each desert place

This is the work, this is the work, the work we have been given
To make this valley of weeping a place of springs
The daily stream of choices brings the weary pilgrims home again  

This is the choice, the choice we must keep making
To sing here though we waste away, and never let our song decay  
Cause this is the hope, the hope he’s laid before us
This rain-forsaken riverbed, withered up and left for dead
Shall thirst no more the Saviour said!  


This is the home, the home we have been promised
Where longing leaves a fingerprint, the stories trace where truth has been
This is the Breath that fills us though we gasp for air,
Whispers while the pages turn courage to keep holding on
Till these shadowlands break out in dawn

This is the work, this is the work, the work we have been given
To make this valley of weeping a place of springs
The daily stream of choices brings the weary pilgrims home again  
Where each buried hope has sprung up green like a tree of life by the riverbend
Courage, dear heart, drink it in, The further you go the further there is  

Come taste the fruit of faith as the feast begins
He’s turning tears into the wine of blessedness
Now the wounds that marked the Fool’s defeat,
are the keyholes where the children see
The beauty that has saved the world, his banner over us is love

A very special thanks to my beloved friend, Diana, who prompted the occasion and creation of this song, and to our sweet friends who added to its richness – Andrew Lazo, Hannah Thomas, and Calvin Venus. I am always amazed and humbled by the grace of being such company. A hearty thanks to Phil Keaggy who added his fine guitar work to this. And special thanks to Matthew Clark – friend, road companion and fellow cultivator.
May each of you be blessed and kept with grace.

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