"A Common Place", a documentary about work, meaning, and purpose.
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(00:00:00) It's 12 minutes past 12:00 now and this is midday coming to you on Minnesota Public Radio and this Labor Day weekend and a set of public radio is starting a monthly series of programs called a commonplace these broadcasts feature first person stories of faith, and we hope you'll tell us what you think of them at our website Minnesota Public Radio dot-org the other programs in the series. Will air on Columbus Day Veterans Day and Christmas, but we begin this Labor Day weekend with a program about work and faith. Work is Holy as the Sabbath is Holy. The first thing I do in any merger, sit down and talk to the head of the other company and say do we agree on our sense of purpose and our mission. I'm not allowed to talk about my faith, but they can't stop me from showing my faith. I'm Krista Tippett and this is a commonplace conversations around the spiritual geography of Life on Labor Day work and faith (00:01:01) on our farm in my experience. I thought of work as being endless and never done (00:01:08) why is voices on what we do and why we do it. I've touched someone's life and they even turned touched mine and it's something we carry with us (00:01:20) forever. (00:01:28) What is the spiritual geography of work geography has to do with physical shape divisions resources and relationships? What is the relationship between labor and the human Spirit Bill George of the Medtronic Corporation is known as an executive who values the spiritual side of his own life and that of his employees. In fact, he says his company leads world markets in medical technology precisely because of this I always had in mind being in a leadership role in a major corporation and trying to use my influence to create a more of an ethical sense and values-based sense in that organization. I'm not quite sure how I came to that but it was a growing sense through my teenage years Medtronic was founded in 1949 in a garage in Northeast Minneapolis. Bye Earl Bakken the inventor of the first battery powered pacemaker. Today, it's a 40 billion dollar company doing business in 120 countries. And the focus of the company's work is still Guided by Earl Bakken has original mission statement to contribute to human welfare. You know, it's one thing to say at age 18 you had a vision of what you want to do in life and a sense of mission for your life. It's quite another to see how that's all going to be carried out and honestly speaking it wasn't until I got to Medtronic in 1989 when I was 46 years old that I really felt I was in the right place where there was if you will a congruence between the expression of values and my ability to to carry those out in a work setting because we're focused so passionately on how do we restore people to full life and health and it's not just the people at the top of the organization or even the engineers create the product but you go on a production line of people are really passionate about I'm aching heart valves are going to say People's lives and I know that that product has to be perfect. And if one out of a thousand that I make is defective that somebody's going to die. So I want to make sure everyone is perfect. So you don't have to have inspectors and supervisor supervising these people because they set the higher standards than any Management Group ever would and I think it's been kind of at the core of our net kind of it is at the core of our success. And what are some ways that you think about your own spiritual health and how you nurture that and how that plays into your working life. Well, I'm a great believer that to be in a significant leadership role or really in any role we have to be integrated as a whole person. And so I have to be in touch with my dark side which has been hard for free for many years and but I have to be healthy and in body and mind and heart and spirit. I'm very fortunate and I have to support groups. If you want to call them that prayer groups one a men's group that's been meeting now for 25 years and we talked about very significant issues. And we also have a couple's group that meets monthly and those groups are really wonderful because they're both for you and the tough times like when my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer or in the good times when you're sharing a wedding or a birth or something like that. I copied this down from a magazine interview that you gave in 1999. He said the hardest Thing for anyone in a leadership role is to face your own mistakes, but that's the key to being successful. It's a striking statement. It flies in the face of bit of perhaps what is a stereotype of strong leadership which is just focused on the strength and then it occurred to me, although it might seem ironic that having a spiritual approach to your leadership. In fact allows you the freedom also to to live with your weaknesses. Is that true? I I think it's all true. When I worked in the Pentagon no one could admit a mistake because the head of the organization secretary defense never would so everyone want up covering up their mistakes. I think it's far better to say. Hey, I make mistakes don't you make mistakes now? Let's just acknowledge it to get it out on the table and we'll go solve that problem. But beyond that from a personal standpoint is just so much easier to live with the fact that I have downsides. I have a lot of flaws and most of us do but we won't admit them and I think by my sharing My flaws in my fears and my vulnerabilities really empowers the rest of the organization to say, yeah. Well, he's kind of more like we are and he has a lot of the same fears I did this but three four years ago. My wife had made this wonderful process of healing from her breast cancer of sharing with our whole organization by email which is kind of my thing kinda odd way just before Thanksgiving how thankful I felt for her recovery, but also some of the fears I felt during this process and the vulnerabilities. It's amazing to this day. I still get emails from employees sharing with me their experiences because they felt that they could open up and a lot of organizations. If you know, if you look at the leader is kind of on a pedestal then you can't be a real person. You're kind of a persona. It's a lot easier to be as real as you can. Medtronic's annual revenue has quadrupled under Bill. George is leadership. He presided over five mergers which doubled the company size in one eight-month period last year. I wondered how it's possible for a values driven organization like Medtronic to maintain those values in a merger driven economy. That's a very tough question. I see organization to get merged into larger organization and they really are at risk of losing their sense of purpose and Mission and even their values frankly. I think people look far too much at the financial fit of the organizations and whether it's going to be financially viable and whether the stock market's going to like it. In fact the first thing I do in any merger sit down and talk to the head of the other company and say do we agree on our sense of purpose and our mission do we agree on our values? Let's go over those rather explicitly. What are yours? What are mine? Is there a meeting of the minds on that? If there isn't let's not talk money because even though might be a great Anshel, D little crumble in the end. I know that Medtronic stockholders get a good return on their investment. If that tide should turn do you think that they would be as supportive of your commitment to values and Mission? I guess that's really hypothetical. It's hard to know. That's a very good question because we have pretty hard-nosed shareholders out there. I think the purpose of this company goes far beyond that and we would see our way through that. Honestly. I think we have a very high in our compound return to shareholders is 37 and a half percent per year for the last 15 years. It's unbelievable and it's getting better. It's better the last five years and it was over the last fifteen but I think what's underneath that is the drive for Mission. The only thing keeps this place going if you set out the other way around you say our mission is to maximize shareholder value. That's a sure route to failure. If you follow that route, you'll be out of business. You may get away with it for a while, but eventually wind up like an ITT where you don't exist anymore. There's no more Itt. And there are lots of companies we go back a great companies of the past don't exist because they lose their sense of self and sense of mission. So I think it's something you have to put in front all the time. I talk to shareholders about it sometimes some of the financial analyst could their eyes kind of glaze over when I talk about these things. I think sometimes they don't get it a few of them do a few I'm really understand it. But a lot of them just kind of say well, okay, but we do talk about it very openly with them because we want to understand that's why we're here and that that sense of purpose extends far beyond just responding to what are their needs for a short term return. It's somewhat counter to the culture right now, isn't it this idea of getting rich quick and building a company from nothing with profit as the main goal. Well, that's been a problem for years. I mean when I was at Harvard Ted Levitt, you said, you know, Milton Friedman said the same thing only purpose of businesses making a profit. I think it's got to go far beyond that. I can't go to our 25,000 employees say the only reason you're here is to enhance shareholder value. You can see my value but people don't relate to that some what makes you get up out of bed every morning to get up at 5:30 to go to work. That's how it makes. You passionate. Make sure a thousand of a thousand heart valves are good. What makes your passions you feel like you're doing some good for someone you're helping someone if you lose that you lose it all are you aware of people who have been offended by your talk of spirituality or who don't want you to be vulnerable? Well, certainly Tom Peters was when I wrote him a letter and he wrote back a real nasty grams. Thank you. Tom Peters is Tom Peters is the author who wrote In Search of Excellence, which was an excellent book. He had written an article in our local papers, which are syndicated on the country called spirituality has no place in the secular workplace and I wrote him and told him what I totally disagree. He was confusing spirituality and religion in effect. And so criticizing me of trying to pull his religion on people. So I think there are people like that. I don't run into many in Medtronic because I tried to be as authentic about it as possible. I think people understand that it's well intentioned. I think there's a yearning for people to get in touch with their own spirituality their own Souls. I think it's a question of enabling people to find out who they are. And so I don't find too many people offended least they are they don't say as far as vulnerability. I think people really resonate with that as long as it's authentic Bill George of the Medtronic Corporation. Values and spirituality in the workplace have become Buzz words, but they are given Integrity by particular voices and particular (00:11:29) lives. (00:11:34) The Lilly endowment of Indianapolis has set aside 20 million dollars to bring college students into reflection on religious values as they plan their working lives. Chaplain. Lucy Forster Smith has been coordinating a lily Grant to Macalester College in st. Paul (00:11:52) vocation comes from the (00:11:54) the word vocare which is a Latin word which means calling through Retreats and Seminars. The Lily project is asking students at 31 colleges across the country how might faith shape your thinking about career students are beginning to say, is there something deeper that I can Architect if you will if I can really structure a life of purpose where I know what I'm doing has meaning and I know that I'm using the gifts that I have been given intellectually and emotionally and spiritually in order to be able (00:12:31) to (00:12:33) make a difference in the world. Then I know that I'm not alone and there may be my friend sitting next to me who's also going to do that and and the professor is doing (00:12:42) and it takes on at a (00:12:43) larger character than just a kind of individualistic. I'm going to go out there and save the world Lucy has several stories about surprising watershed moments when her students experience the theological definition of vocation as calling one of the most dramatic was Sarah a Spanish and biology major who graduated this spring she took an internship to work with autistic high school students. Really her job was just to hang out with them. One day. My boss showed up. She was telling me about this guy that would get off of the school bus and she used the words quote unquote monster. And so I was just imagining this horrible thing coming off of the bus that could just barely walk and this person gets off the bus and I knew right away that it was him because he was he was deformed and he was shorter and he was almost blind so they had to lead a man and he kind of his teeth were kind of chattering and and he sat down and he really like to listen to music and I'm not even sure if these people knew that but I could tell that when we turn the radio on and when we turned it up he would tune in to it and he would move in a certain way. So I turn the radio up a little bit more and moved it towards him. He came over and sat beside me on the couch. And the most amazing sense of calmness filled the room and it's it's almost hard to even put words to it because his presence was so strong. He sat down and he turns his head towards me and I can't really even say that he was looking at me because I don't think he could see me very well. He reaches his hand over and touches my my knee. I don't know what became of me or what made me do this, but I just turned to him and started talking to him and he didn't respond but I really felt like we were having a conversation and it was almost like he was communicating with me in a totally different way. He was trying to break through this sheltered life that he's LED that most people cannot see that there's actually a person deep down inside of that body. The sense that I got from him was finally finally someone is listening to me or finally someone is is connecting with me. It was in this point that I realized I had a gift. That I also had I guess you could call it a mission. I felt like I was supposed to somehow reach out to people like this boy and bring them into the world that most people will not allow them to to come into that was a turning point for me. I was able to see and understand so many more things than I was able to before I enter that apartment that day. It was like another thousand doors were open to (00:16:05) me. (00:16:19) Well a few of us will receive like Sarah and electrifying Moment of clarity, but it's not likely that even Sarah will work at the same job in the same place for the rest of her life. The well-worn prediction is that today's high school graduate will change careers at least seven times far more than their grandparents or even their parents did. I was a CO check for about a year and a half. I was a secretary disastrously about a half a dozen times. I was in sales. I sold Barda Club memberships, although I don't know if you don't actually sell one. Can you say that you sold them? I did goofy things like counting the number of people at new mall openings. Oh, I worked for a music company for a very short period of time as it turns out I wasn't exactly fire. I also delivered phone books. I cleaned houses. I had a business that failed through lack of Interest. I found after a while. I didn't care if People's toilets are clean, which was a problem for the mountain. That's Amy Lindgren and she has had a lifelong fascination with the world of work by the time she was 22 she'd held over 40 jobs and she had gained a body of experience which he now uses daily as president of prototype Career Services. She helps people through career transition and job search. She also writes a weekly column for the Sunday job section of the st. Paul Pioneer Press. Amy says her colorful work history has made one thing very clear to her a job is not an end in itself, but it means a tool for supporting what matters what you do for work is not as important as far as its title or it's station as how it plays into the bigger question is the job of a tool and it's not just that there's one big job. That's a tool for your whole life is that at every moment there's a job that can be a tool for that period of your life and sometimes it's a tool because it gets you out of the house. Because it brings you into a relationship with other people or because it serves some other need that you have to give or to be of use. That sounds to me like you're saying even work which might be considered to be menial even by the people who are doing it can be rewarding on some level. No question. I've been going to a Lutheran Church the past couple of years and I've heard the pastor there often mention something that Martin Luther said about work that that all vocation is is Holy that it's it has its own purpose. When you had a paper route. Can you imagine that you would be riding along in the morning or walking along and feeling that this was a wholly occupation? It's really hard to use the word. Holy with something like a paper route because it triggers my sense of the Absurd and yet I am I deepest level. I know that's true. The paper route for me at the time was it was specifically a tool for finance. I needed it. Literally I needed to get a mortgage on my house because I was self-employed. I had this company and the bankers were not impressed with self-employed people at the time and when I got a paper route, they said oh good. Now you have a job will give you a mortgage which just blew my mind, but what I didn't realize at the time it's funny about work. You can only be aware of so much at the time now, I look back and I know that it it had a lot of other purposes for me. It's kept me connected with hard work, which is very easy to get away from when you're when you work with words or at a computer, but I also generally took My dog with me and very often worked with a friend and a deep and relationships that I couldn't have expected it to do and it also played an important role for me in dealing with fear. You know, there's there's a question. What in the world are you doing out in the middle of the night three or four in the morning by yourself walking around tossing fit, you know walking up to people's doors and into their porches and so it was a tool for a lot of things that I hadn't anticipated it being a tool for you know, I was having this little conversation with myself driving here today. I was imagining some question about how you can think about vocation when when somebody really just needs to feed their children and then I thought you know feeding my children is part of my vocation. I mean, it's part of why I work the number of hours I do. It's a perfectly honorable way to think about At least part of the meaning and purpose of my life. Hmm. That's that's very nice the way you put that because it is again the sense of why are you here or what is the most the highest purpose for you at this time? It's good to be thinking about it in terms of phases. I have a lot of clients who are dismayed by this at first, they'll say I want to find a job that suits me better and often they'll put it in those terms with that suits my higher purpose or that has meaning and we'll talk for a while and where the dismay comes in is when I start to explain to them that what we'll find is something that has meaning now and that some point it will cease to have meaning hmm and that they'll have to do this again and it's not so much about that thing that we keep hearing about from the media and I'm part of the media on this that will change jobs or careers seven times or however much because I It makes it feel like you out of control of that process. Like somebody will make you somebody will take away your job and you'll have to start over what I'm explaining these peoples. If you're if you're truly seeking work that has meaning you have to understand that you are growing if you are growing then eventually you'll outgrow the job to currently has meaning for you and that's good. Not bad and it's something to be excited about and to embrace and to look forward to what I what I've discovered is that if I can help somebody put down on paper two different types of time frames one is a longer time frame someone comes to me. There's a 55 years old with 35 years old or 25 years old. It doesn't matter but I'll ask them fairly directly. How long do you think you'll live? It's amazing how many people have a strong answer my father, you know died at this age and I smoke and I think I'll live to be seventy two until have an answer. So okay 55 and you think you're gonna live to 72 what have we got there 17 years how many of those years will work? I'd like to work six more years. Okay, so you'll work six more years that leaves what 11 years unaccounted for what we do with those 11 years. We're getting to that question. Again. Your job is a tool a tool for what we are you just are these six years do they count for nothing? Are they not your life? Should you not be living your life these six years. So we start talking about the things that they've put aside that they think they'll do after they retire and start trying to integrate weave those back into these years tomorrow. What can you do tomorrow? What what what of these things that you've always wanted to do? Learn Italian or or or visit your cousin in California, whatever. What can you do tomorrow? And we try to bring to this close to the front as possible all the parts their lives that they've been putting off thinking. They don't deserve to have them because they're unemployed, you know, ironically when they get a job, they won't feel they have time to do them. So where's the sense in this that's the one kind of time frame that we work on this other time frame and this this creates such a vast sense of relief. It's almost it's almost like medicine. I mean, I watch it take hold of them while we're together. I'll simply write down with them what they're going to do for the next two weeks. Okay based on this goal that we have that requires you to be working within three months. We know that this certain number resume should get out. I say to the client you need to get out 15 this week to have a good shot at this number of interviews by the end of the month and we're working in and then I'll say this is only going to take about 12 hours that leaves you a few hours left over. Let's go back to that list. We started earlier of things you've always wanted to do. Can you get all of this done by Wednesday and have a long weekend to go visit that cousin Can you can you catch any frequent flyer miles and Thursday through Saturday be in California. I wouldn't believe that sense of relief their faces just open up there just to think that they can have something that they want and yet still be doing something they need to do there's a rest in that a sense that things are being taken care of that somebody else has a blueprint and they can follow the blueprint and still have their lives. I don't know. It's hard to explain what it feels like to watch somebody come back to life in front of you when they came in. So heavy of heart thinking that their main issue is to get a job and they didn't realize that their main issue was to reclaim their lives. (00:25:46) Amy Lindgren of prototype Career Services (00:25:55) On University Avenue in st. Paul there is a place called life-track resources here. People are also reclaiming their (00:26:02) lives moving from welfare to work (00:26:06) Latrice is originally from California a single mother pregnant with her fourth child right now. I'm not working after I had my baby. I am planning on going back to work. Hopefully, I'll get him to the daycare field. That's where my heart is totally set is to have my own daycare business and I'm striving to achieve an accomplished dad right now, but if I don't start back during the day care right away, I'm going to go back into the industrial back working at the steel factory or warehouse work have done that before Oh, yes. I've kind of had a lot of different jobs kind of a jack-of-all-trades from medical field to warehouse and children. So it's kind of a up and down. With me with employment. I just know I just rely on Trust on God to pull me through and that's an inner thing. That's can't you can't explain it. You know, it's beyond the natural mind, you know, and you really have to have your spiritual head first and then your family and then work because without those two connected you really can't function in the workplace and you just have to have faith and trust and believe and just know that you were going to make it and get through. It may not be when you want it but it's going to come and it'll be there when you least expect it. Denisa Farley is a life track staff member welfare-to-work job retention specialist IX Latrice to be here today because even though she talked about some of the things that are difficult for her with her family and transitioning. She's provided for me to a glimmer of hope that Even in the struggles that we Face the life stressors with children work balancing at all that she has the gumption to continue. So it's a lot of reciprocity that happens between us and that's that's the enjoyment that I get out of my job. I believe that we all have a calling. I think my calling is to serve people because there was not too long in my life that I was struggling with the same things that Latrice and some of my other participants struggle with today. So in that it is my duty and my calling then to provide the same assistance, you have to be able to tap into a person's human Spirit to be able to connect with them and to assist them. So when we can do that, I think that's that's the best part of of what I do and how I connect is that I've touched someone's life and they even turned touched mine and it's something we carry with us forever. That's the payoff for this all that that you have something to always hold onto and to say I was a part of this and in turn I was a part of God's (00:29:11) gift. Oh, I sang you can G (00:29:16) live track also serves hundreds of refugees each year people from Bosnia Burma Cambodia and other countries who found their way out of War to this brick building in Minnesota. I spoke with cartooned area. She is a Somali Refugee who counsels other Somali refugees and she explained to me how religion can become part of the struggle that some immigrants have in finding and keeping work here our Monday to Friday work week does not allow for observance of the traditional Muslim. Holy day of Friday and our workday and the structure of our workplaces can make it impossible for people to carry out the essential daily cycle of prayer call tune. Where's the dress known as The Hub and she needs to be able to close the door behind her for privacy when she prays These are not just cultural practices something these people simply haven't been in America long enough to put aside. These are deeply religious practices. And with them they honor God as they understand him. They honour Allah unlike many of the people call tuned area works with she's now fairly at home in American culture, but still there's a balancing act for her to work in an office and keep the daily rituals of her faith to pray five times a day in too fast the month of Ramadan. Do you pray at the same time five times a day? Yeah fifth times a day but in the morning before I start my web then sometime me day during my lunch break and my office. Does this 5 minutes is the other one when I'm done my work I go home like 4 o'clock. They like nine o'clock the fifth one. It's before I go to bed. There's a common knowledge that there's a certain kind of dress which is associated with with Islamic faith that there are prayer times, but I'm not sure that I ever hear anyone talk about what that means. And so the question is, how does this this aspect of your life which is physical. How is it a moment of Faith the grand old Lassie duties and followed these rules. I think that people who don't know much about Islam. It might not understand what that you know, you say that this is important to Allah and that behind that there's this reverence for the sovereignty and so that's important because you are honoring God. Yes in respecting this command with I think that I did what I supposed to do. Yeah, and I think it's the writing and you will remember always Allah. You remember always Allah and its really a moment of worship. Yeah showing that yes. Yeah, when people are not able because of the nature of their work place to pray five times a day or at the times they would like to is that all right now, they quit most of them they quit Not far from life-track is the congregation of st. Peter Claver the church home of Elaine Benner - she's a 24-year employee of the st. Paul Public School System working now in their outreach program, her job is to find homeless children and get them enrolled in school. So at least their educational lives can be stable. She finds them living in cars on the streets or in hotels. She told me a story of getting a call to go see a mentally impaired woman who was living in a hotel room with eight children seven of whom themselves were developmentally delayed. She and her colleague Dana spent two hours with this woman and they realized that the situation was far more complex than just getting these kids into school at about 3:30 that afternoon after we'd finished all the particulars of our job. The mother says to us you Coming back aren't you? My children are hungry. I look today in a thinking God. I want to go home. We'd had a long day. And I realized at that point I then we both then realize we have to step beyond the employee role and then become the humanitarian roll Dan and I then kind of separated she went to her church, which is Morningstar and I went to my church, which is st. Peter Claver is we went to the food shelves. We got food. We purchased dairy products went to st. Vincent DePaul and got a hot plate because we knew this family would not have a meal and there were children that needed to eat this Mom needed to eat. So it was easy for us to take care of the job part, but then it was the spiritual part that said we had to feed this family. There isn't any way for me to serve individuals that are so down and out without bringing my faith and do it on a daily basis. I cannot do that without remembering Green who's I am because of who I am. So it makes it very easy to do the job from a faith base. Probably one of the neatest jobs. Anybody could ever have is they actually serve someone else? Are you allowed to talk about your faith or is it more and how you go about serving? I'm not allowed to talk about my faith, but they can't stop me from showing my faith. Could you say something more about the spiritual disciplines that help you live with the hardness of your work? Yeah. I think that because of the particular way that I practice my faith, which is Catholicism. I know I have no doubt in my mind that when I attend Mass when I receive the word and receive the Eucharist, it is constantly feeding me to continue doing what I'm doing, even for someone who glows with her faith like a lane there must be times when she has to put her own life first or her own children or even Her own need for rest what happens then often times. I met with needing to say no because I think that if you take too much on then you become ineffective. We all know what our breaking point is, at least we need to know there have been times when I know professionally to cross. The line is is not healthy for the family and it's not healthy for myself and I can give you a story at the family service center or the family shelter on this particular day was about 25 below outside. And and this was a mom with about four five kids who had been asked to leave shelter because she had broken one of the rules and this was about nine o'clock in the morning until after I went into the shelter and I thought oh my God, I wonder what she's going to do it so cold when I came out of the shelter she was standing in the outer Lobby and it was not for clock in the in the evening and I thought oh my God, what is this woman gonna do with These kids and it's cold and I realized within a blink I couldn't take her home because that is crossing the line of my professional life. But then spiritually I had to kind of think about what was I going to do and I was able to give her some resources where she could call and get some immediate help. I think sometimes we have to say no to what we can do but we must educate the families that are on those situations. I think sometimes we put on guilt, you know, won't you know, I'm this woman that supposed to be doing these kind of things and it's okay to be human. It's okay not to want to feed this particular family in your home, but it is not. Okay not to feed them and you almost have to kind of find a loving humor about it. Yes homelessness smells and yes, sometimes it looks very unattractive. And that's okay. It really is. Okay. You have to really kind of look into your own heart and when you look and you look close enough, you see the things that you can tolerate other things you don't like but sometimes the situation is very overwhelming and you pray you tell him hey, you know, I'm tired buddy. Maybe you'd like to pick up on this one and surprisingly enough. He's always there, you know so that you can keep on going and so, you know all day long. I have these conversations sometimes I wonder if it's not mental health issues myself, but you have these conversations about what you can do what you can't do and what he can do all by himself. He really is there and if you can't do it yourself, he liked me sure (00:38:10) hard. (00:38:30) I really want to go to heaven. I truly want to go to heaven. I mean I feel it but I know that (00:38:37) he's expecting a lot of me (00:38:40) because I know what it's supposed to take. It's about love and so I'm always talking about. Yeah when I get there, I want to sit with him eye to eye and asking what the hell could he have been thinking of on such and such a day when he let those people be hungry and and my sister says you need to be very careful when you say you want to sit. My mom used to say it to said eye to eye she said because if you're asking for that kind of intimacy with him, he's going to put a whole lot on you and so when I think about the day's getting hard for me or tired, I'm hoping I'm I'm Paving the way so I can sit eye-to-eye and you know people tell you what when you get to heaven, it's all knowing. I want to hear it from him explain to me exactly. What were the the floods about. What was the hunger about what was the Desolation about and maybe it's the force and what I (00:39:32) do. You're listening to a commonplace (00:39:51) conversations around the spiritual geography of life after a short break. We'll shift our focus with a visit to a Jewish Home and a look at how the observance of Sabbath imparts wisdom to work. I'm Krista Tippett stay with (00:40:06) us. You're listening to (00:40:10) Minnesota Public Radio in the first of four monthly programs on faith and spirituality. Tell us what you think by visiting our website Minnesota Public Radio dot-org. You'll find a bit more about the program. And on this Labor Day weekend. We'd like to hear your own stories of faith and work. Once again, Minnesota Public Radio dot-org. (00:40:43) on Labor Day work and faith (00:40:47) the subject of how people find meaning and purpose and work is as big as life itself and is varied as our Humanity some people Express their deepest values through the kind of work they do for others. It is in the spirit of how they do their work. And for some of us the point is why we work there is also significance in why we rest and I'm intrigued by the Jewish tradition of Sabbath giving Holiness to work by knowing when not to work a full day set aside every week sounds so impractical but Judaism has preserved the symbols and the structure to make Sabbath possible. I went to experience part of one family Sabbath for myself. I spoke first with Rabbi Barry Citron director of the Jay Phillips Center for Jewish Christian Learning at the University of st. Thomas. It is the original counterculture institution. It really does stand against the prevailing culture and it's hard to stand against the prevailing culture the way in which Judaism is about saying well on the Sabbath you can't shop you can't cook because that's the way the Sabbath is to observe be observed and I try to say actually all of those restrictions and those cans are enormously liberating think about how liberating it would be. If you actually could say to your teenage kids. Well, this is Sabbath and you actually can't go to the Mall of America. This is the Sabbath and we're not really going to cook we're going to figure this out. So we're actually liberated from and Actually not going to do yard work on the Sabbath. We'll figure out how to get it done at some time. But the Sabbath is about restricting messing around with the world literally is kind of one way of thinking about it. The Sabbath is about keeping our hands off God's creation not interfering with it. Not disturbing it not working. It not exploiting it not plundering it. So traditional Jews don't drive on the Sabbath. Well, that's a pretty good ecological idea. You got to figure out how to use your legs to get to the synagogue art walk in the neighborhood or to take your kids out for a stroll along the Lakes but that's very counterculture and flies in the face of the fact that the way we normally operators. We get our keys hop in the car open the garage door and zoom off and look for entertainment outside as opposed to looking for entertainment inwardly. How does that flow into? To what happens on the other six days one thing which it says is if the Sabbath is not about work the other six days are about being creative and making a difference in the world and taking the values and the Traditions that you've learned on that day of reflection a day in which presumably you've spent some time thinking about those things that count the most family and friends and God and Ultima see and meaning and taking that and letting that literally wash over the other six days of the week and being refreshed by kind of the reflection on that in terms of the what the rest of the week is like, I think that's what the Sabbath is supposed to be. So yeah. Yeah, you got to work and you got to prepare and going out and making a difference in the world the way in which that's often used having the Jewish Community having taken a kind of medieval or mystical. A Doctrine called Tycoon a repair tikkun Olam repair of the world and says the obligation of each of us is to go out and repair the world to help literally even though there's quite seems quite audacious to be God's partner in the re-creation of the world Rabbi Barry Citron. (00:44:53) Hi, my name is Sophie and I'm 8 years old. My name is Molly and I'm night. My name is oblivion and I'm 5 years old (00:45:06) during the week. It's interesting is my husband I were talking about this the other night. It feels very much. Like everybody has a goal and it's very straight line. Everybody's kind of going can I go in the distance? And then Shabbat kind of brings us all back. It's almost circular. It's this kind of creation of our family all over again. Each week Sabbath is a translation of the Hebrew word Shabbat Margo Myers is a full-time mother of four daughters. The youngest is 8 months old her husband David corn field is a physician working in Pediatric Intensive Care. I joined them in their st. Louis Park home on a Saturday evening as the sun was setting as on every weekend Shabbat began for this family at sundown on Friday with a service of candles prayers and a meal with many friends after Saturday morning service at synagogue comes the shabbes (00:46:00) nap. The V. What did you like most about Shabbat? I have like eating holler and eating. I like the fact (00:46:10) that on Shabbat you can rest (00:46:12) and on Jabba's you can sleep in as late as you want. Yeah, I like having people over for dinner (00:46:20) Sabbath ends with a brief service. Havdalah (00:46:24) have de la means to make a difference to make a separation between the holy and the secular. (00:46:31) You light a candle that's three braided together. It's a braided candle and you have a spice box with a sweet-smelling spices in it and a glass of wine. And you say the blessing over the candle and over the spice box and you shake the Spice Box. We pass it around let everybody smell the spices and the spices are supposed to signify a good week. I'm a sweet-smelling week and taking all your senses to feel you know, like Shabbat go and begin your new week with Renewed Energy and sweetness. Then you dip the candle light out into the wine and you sing a song having a good week. Shavua Tov have a good week and it's kind of the start of a new week. So there's a real beginning and an end to shabbat for us. (00:47:26) Shabbat gives me a very certain In time to sit back and reflect on that very simple thought how wonderful it is to live our particular lives. And then as a corollary to that the responsibility that we have to try to help other people to feel better about their place in the world be that in my way of work be it in the way that I get to interact with folks and I don't think that there's a real divorce between that and and what goes on here in my home on Shabbat. (00:48:21) There are so many kinds of work which I have not touched on but I could not finish this reflection without hearing from someone who works the land Chuck and Linda Suki farm near Mandan, North (00:48:32) Dakota. This Farm is a small farm livestock grain operation the landscape I think was best described by some people that came here. Visit us from Germany one time Melancholy and I thought boy they've got it because there is kind of a Melancholy air about the landscape until you hear Oriole singing in the morning and then it's pure joy. So I it's hard to describe. It's the colors of the sky the sun sets the sunrise clouds the skyline of the hills really contemplatively on our farm in my Growing Experience. I thought of work as being endless and never done and never would be done. It was quite frustrating frustrating at sad and being there was never that sense of completion of while we're just done and we've Sometime there was always one more thing to do. Well at first I just tried to do things a certain way because that's how we'd always done them without question. And as I got older it became apparent that it doesn't have to be quite as gruesome as it was. There are seemed at times to me or hopeless the idea of controlled grazing and trying to mimic the grazing patterns of the buffalo on the on the plains where they would come in and intense heard and Grays and area off and then leave and not come back to that area for a while. So we kind of try to do that in a moderate sense with our pastures now and it's really improved our pasturing situation and made life quite a bit more pleasant to hear. Now it feels like it's endless in terms of being part of a process and so it's not it doesn't have that cloud over it like it wants head once in a while it does, you know, he gets swamped and get back in the corners and if we were just farming I think that cloud would be a bit darker but we do have this source of off-farm income that lightens the load considerably and allows us to maybe just not be so intense. How we pay for our farming to a large degree is through music. That is I write songs Go sing them for people. As a kid, I would stand by the 2 piece Pants feeling and the floor was a world of kaleidoscopes world of skirts hair high-stepping feet. You can foxtrot body - to step or two above any debutante ball if you can. The land Feels Like Home to me. I love it here. I love the colors (00:52:00) of Summer. But I also love the winners before the weighed in the pink and the blue and it's like what church should be. If you love going to church, you know, it's just a really spiritual place for me Chuck's wife Linda. I guess I believe that that we are part of the creation of a loving super loving caring (00:52:24) God and I think that is probably (00:52:27) the backbone of everything I do and everything. I experienced seems to back that up. I don't believe that this world was just it just happened. I just can't believe that there's too much Beauty. There's too much order. There's too much creativity. I cannot believe that that was not (00:52:48) created with great care in love. (00:52:51) I feel like I belong to something So wonderful, and so terrible maybe sometimes too but I have this feeling that I'm part of it in that sin. That is wonderful. I have a part in this the Earth is our it's are visible source, and it's why I can believe in abstract Concepts or in a God, you know, because (00:53:12) there is this gorgeous world (00:53:14) and I also feel like part of my (00:53:17) reason for being here is to have this little piece of land in North Dakota to tend and have other people come out and see it because I feel selfish about enjoying it all by myself and I love to see other people see what I see out here and feel what I feel when I live here. I'd like to share that with more people. That's my mission. I think yeah, that's my mission. I'll leave the warmth of the stove my chair and book and go out into the cold night. My little lamp that shows the way and leaves me dark is swinging in my hand the house windows shine above me and below a single light gleams in the barn were an hour ago. I left a you in labor. Beyond is the grand sweep of Heaven stars as I walked between them in the Deep Night the Lights of house and barn also Our Stars my own small light is an unsteady star. I come to Earth on the barn floor where the use lambs have been born and now wet and bloody breathing at last the air of this wintry World struggle to rise while they you mutters and licks unknowing. They have The Knack of they're becoming heartbeat and breath the hunger that will lead them to the ticked and thence to the sunlit grass. I perform the ancient acts of comfort and safety making sure I linger a moment in the pleasure of their coming and my welcome and then go for I must Comfort myself and sleep. Well, I worked the world turned half an hour caring is on toward morning and spraying the dark and the cold again the births and then the deaths of many things the end of time I closed the door and walked back home word among the Stars. (00:56:59) Garrison Keillor reading from Wendell Berry's a timbered choir Sabbath poems 1979 to 1997. A commonplace is produced by marja sturckow and Brian Newhouse. Our technical director is Alan Strickland assisted by Cliff Bentley Trish Taylor Michael Osborne, Scott, lieber's and Craig Thorson. The next program in our series is on Monday, October 9th Columbus Day Discovery until then we'd like to invite you to visit a commonplace on the MP our website at Minnesota Public Radio dot-org. We'd like to hear your comments. You can also call us at 1-888-226-4469 or beu Sandberg and this program is a production of Minnesota Public Radio. I'm Krista Tippett. And that does it for our midday program today Gary eichten here. Thanks so much for tuning in and I hope you enjoyed the program invitation to join us Monday here on. Midday. We're going back out to the state fair for our special Labor Day addition of midday. Veterinarian Kata and Hunter will be along to answer your pet questions Howard Sinker will be on hand to talk sports and give out prizes Monday Labor Day at the fair. (00:58:18) Here's another page from our Minnesota script Gabi come along with me right now as we hit the road to Minnesota. My name is Faith hassle. I'm a visual artist. I came up with this idea to do a map of Minnesota featuring Hot dishes from around the state. I put chipped beef baked by brainer because the movie Fargo was filmed there in the used wood chipper in that movie. Are we on the open road and what highways they have in Minnesota. I came up with an idea to make an auto bingo game with things that I felt were really important on the back roads of Minnesota and (00:58:51) other states. (00:58:52) It's the ice house on black. It's the individual cabin Motel The Rusted thrashing machine along the side of the road and a sort of license plates boast of 10,000 lakes, but that's modest Minnesota for this map about how (00:59:04) many lakes there are in Minnesota. So it starts out by saying this way to (00:59:08) lakes and then it says many lakes more Lakes lots of lakes where the Lakes look for more pages from our scrapbook at Minnesota Public Radio dot-org. (00:59:19) Okay, it's time Friday night at 11 Saturday afternoon at 2:00 on man.