prophetic "uselessness"

This is from an e-mail I sent to Erin this morning (the initial part in quotes is from her message):

"The slower pace of this project seems really healthy to me just now. ...I think I sometimes feel like my worth is tied up into how much I can do or produce. I've been trying to work against that and letting myself just be still and not be 'productive' has been part of that." I like how you're searching your motives and how you wove biblical 'contentment' (or peace) into that.

Of course, "being still" is only valuable if we do it in imitation of Jesus, being at peace and focused on the "one thing needful" like he was. This is very important for us and also is an important service to others. It reminds me of this little piece I quoted in an old journal; it's a reference to Catherine de Hueck Doherty (heard of her? She started Madonna House and was a friend of Thomas Merton...):
She cautioned against the impulse to be relevant by doing something useful as the world measures usefulness. "If you want to see what a 'contribution' really is, look at the Man on the cross. That's a contribution."
In other words, Jesus' greatest contribution was when he wasn't really doing anything. Following that quote I wrote:
The contribution is witness. Such a life helps others by pointing to Christ with some greater clarity, preaching by living.

This is all the more valuable when it occurs in the midst of a society that propagandizes against Christ by its political structures, business practices, and worship of power and violence (through both awe and fear). As Jesus said to his brothers: "The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify of it that its works are evil."(Jn 7.7) So society also hates those who follow Jesus, hurling its worst epithet at them: "Useless!"