What is your Great Work?

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A potter at work

Photo credit: http://morguefile.com/creative/Jusben

I wrote this for another blog I keep called Dear Pope Francis, but I thought it was also something for this site as well.

I spent a good part of this past summer re-reading “The Great Work” by Thomas Berry. Berry was a Catholic priest who argued that we humans must stop thinking of ourselves as the top of the heap when it comes to all the other beings with whom we share our one precious planet. In Berry’s mind, only by truly seeing ourselves in the context of the long, long history of the Universe and how we co-exist with the rest of creation can we humans begin to bring ourselves into right relationship with the rest of the Earth’s inhabitants.

It’s bringing about that shift into right relationship that Thomas Berry believed was the true mission of those of us alive right now, in this particular moment in the history of our planet. He called this the Great Work, and devoted an entire book to the topic. In one passage I keep re-reading, Berry says that each of us was “chosen by some power beyond ourselves” for the task of the Great Work. Says Berry, “We are, as it were, thrown into existence with a challenge and a role that is beyond any personal choice. The nobility of our lives, however, depends on the manner in which we come to understand and fulfill our assigned role.”

I suppose this could be read as Berry saying each of us was born with an assigned task and we must, mechanistically, carry it out absent any free will. Having read more of his writing, however, I don’t think that’s what he means. What I get from this passage is that, at this time in our history where there is so much evidence of the ecological imbalance we humans have caused on this planet, we have a chance to wake up and move things in a new direction.

I think Berry is saying that each of us brought into this world with us unique gifts that, at this particular moment in time, are crucial to putting all of humanity in a better relationship with the rest of creation. Maybe someone has an aptitude for science and can study the shifting climate and predict what that means. Perhaps others are good communicators and can translate complex science into language everyone understands. Artists make us see our daily reality in new ways, inspiring action. Farmers, cooks, caregivers, parents, healers, fixers — they keep everything from breaking down. Spiritual guides remind us to square our lives with something greater than ourselves in how we live out each moment.

It’s hard to see a way out of the pain of this world sometimes. What can one person do? Well, that one person can’t do everything — but his or her gifts are perfectly suited to doing some things very well. This is where each of us can help. By pulling together, each in our own unique way, we can effect great change.

This is what I think Thomas Berry meant. He’s asking each of us to consider one question: What is my Great Work? Figure that out, and you have your assignment. Answer that question, and you can help save the world.

And, I hope this site can help support and promote anyone engaged in the Great Work,

Tell me about your Great Work and what kind of support you need in the comments section. Thanks!



People of the Great Work

People Of The Great Work

Welcome to our People of the Great work blog.

One of the reasons I founded this agency was to bring attention to those doing what Thomas Berry would call the Great Work.

When I attended the Sophia Masters program in Culture and Spirituality at Holy Names University in Oakland, Calif., I was deeply struck by the fact that the people who came to teach us and whose books we read were not more broadly known. They were doing such important work, but were not well known outside certain circles. I was so affected by this that I focused my Masters project on the topic. From that paper came my idea for The Great Work PR, and also this blog.

In this space I want to feature conversations with people doing the Great Work in order to bring more awareness to their service and what it means for the greater Earth community. The interviews here will focus not only on the work these individuals and groups are doing, but also what inspired them to get involved and, most importantly, what sustains them.

I’ll be looking at the issue of sustaining this kind of work over time from a couple of points of view. One will be how people engaged in the Great Work feed their spirits and souls. The other will look at the practicalities of supporting this kind of work, specifically financially. One of my greatest questions is how to do the work that is so needed today, while keeping body and soul together, and a roof over my head.

I’m looking forward to these interviews and I hope you are too. Feel free to check back often to see what’s new!

If you have a suggestion for someone to profile, or would like to be profiled on the blog yourself, get in touch below


Welcome to The Great Work PR

Our Blog


Welcome to The Great Work PR, a resource and PR agency for those engaged in what Thomas Berry called the Great Work.

What do we mean when we say we’re a resource and a PR agency?

First and foremost, we are here to support the important work being done today as our planet faces unprecedented environmental, political, social, and economic change. Our role is to connect those on the front lines both with each other and the wider world. We hope to create community among those engaged in the Great Work by providing a sacred space for learning and support.

Second, we are a PR agency for those driving cultural change, including businesses, authors, poets, artists, spiritual leaders, non-profits, educational institutions, NGOs and anyone working in service to the greater Earth community. Our role is to connect those on the front lines both with each other and the wider world. Too often, those engaged in this work labor in obscurity and isolation. These are people and organizations whose names should be heard in every revolution of the 24-hour news cycle. Their work is that important.

We’re still getting the lights turned on around here, but feel free to look around and get in touch! Come back often to see how we evolve!