"Whistle While You Work!"

At the senior living facility where I serve as a chaplain, I have recently heard some mysterious sounds like birds chirping each time I have visited. I thought at first that the sound might have come from one of the safety alarms on the ceiling. The longer this strange phenomenon went on the more I became confused.

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When I asked one of my “go-to guys” where that whistling chirping sound was coming from and if he could hear it, he said, “Oh yes, but I don’t always pay attention to it. That sound comes from Angel, one of our CNA’s, who’s here today for her shift!” I exclaimed, “How does she do that? It sounds so realistic!” My friend gave me his best deadpan response, “It’s a gift, I guess!”

This week I got to see and hear this gifted and popular caregiver in action and up close. While Angel whistled her delightful chirping like a professional, I looked up from the table where I was chatting with three resident friends. Angel was leaning over the stair banister about a foot above one lady’s head. (This resident is something of a tease herself!) It was fun to see both the “gifted entertainer” and the feisty recipient mutually enjoying this light-hearted musical interaction together!

Like my dad before me, I occasionally whistle my way through household chores. I find it relaxing, but Monique finds it annoying! She will confront me by saying, “Stop that! You don’t even know what you’re whistling!” And when pressed, I can usually identify a random tune, but the musician in her is quick to reply, “That's not any song I know!” And I find myself “busted” again!

I suspect that I am not the only one who whistles my own little tunes! I have even heard Monique, in these latter years, doing a little improvisational noise making as well! Although neither one of us is close to being professional, we find that humming a tune or even attempting to whistle one is very comforting and helps to pass the time away on “chore day!”

The song, “Whistle While You Work,” was written by Larry Morey and set to music by Frank Churchhill for the Disney animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). Andrianna Caselotti, voice actress, performed the song as she played the part of Snow White. The memorable lyrics and tune have become famous over the years!

The subject of work is introduced early in human history as God gives Adam and Eve the responsibility for “tending” and taking care of their idyllic home in Paradise. “Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and tend it.” (Genesis 2:15, NASB ). The Fall of Mankind, in Genesis 3, upended and impacted for all time the way men and women would work without toil. Yet, the sanctity of meaningful work remains. God’s purpose of a fulfilling vocation for mankind has transcended both time and history.

Work is dignified and plays a significant part in God’s design for all persons. I have read the writings of Frederick Buechner for years and consider him to be one of my most inspiring mentors even though I never had the chance to meet this consequential author and Christian thinker of the twentieth century. Buechner has succinctly defined vocation for me in this sentence, “The place where God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

I have spent the years of my employment, and now my retirement, in vocational service as a pastor. The broad areas of this specific calling are evangelism, pastoral care, Bible preaching-teaching, leadership, and administration through the local church. Most days I am thoroughly thankful for this calling on my life. I continue to wake up each day energized and motivated to fulfill God’s purpose for me.

I do not consider being a pastor any different than any other calling. Those of my family have and are fulfilling their purpose and calling in various other vocations: auto mechanic; mother-homemaker; public, private and home-school educators; photonics systems engineer; healthcare public policy director; and healthcare analyst and software solutions engineer. We also have a good number of students who are preparing for their future vocations in fields like business, biology, and art. In short, our family of workers is exceedingly glad that our careers and studies are intersecting with levels of “deeper” need in society.

I am sure that “whistling while we work” would not be welcomed in most work settings today. I can imagine that those team members we serve alongside would surely frown upon anyone who might let loose with a spontaneous, melodic “whistling” intrusion upon their concentration. We wouldn’t want to trigger a report to human resources!

My suggestion is that we find a more acceptable way to communicate how grateful we are for the jobs that God has provided. Maybe we could just start our day with the Psalmist exclamation, “This day belongs to the Lord! Let’s celebrate and be glad today!” (118:24, CEV). If you can do this with a quiet and under the breath whistle, more power to you! 😊

Check this out... Humming

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com


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