In the introduction to this paperback, editor Douglas Thorpe notes, "Something in me wants to claim that the world is meant for transformation: This is what right work teaches. And the great gift to the world is our awareness of this meaning, and our desire, at our best, to assist it." He has assembled a cross-cultural and thought-provoking collection of essays moving from Lao-tzu, Homer, and Saint Benedict all the way through contemporary writers such as Barry Lopez, Wendell Berry, Gary Snyder, Denise Levertov, and others.

This anthology begins with a batch of creation myths in "Origins & First Thoughts" and then covers "The Hunt" and "Cultivation" on farming. In a chapter on "Home-work," we discover Brenda Peterson on "The Sacredness of Chores" and Linda Hogan on "Waking up the Rake," two essays which reveal all the poetic and poignant powers of domesticity. The last two chapters, "Arts, Crafts & Hand-work" and "Final Thoughts: From the City to Sabbath," are also full of excellent pieces. Work and the Life of the Spirit is philosophical rather than practical, offering overviews instead of tips to soulful labor.