Thursday, September 8, 2011

Happy Birthday Mary!

As it has for the last three days, it was pouring rain this morning, so I scurried quickly beneath the overhang.

I hopped over a few puddles, then went into the Dunkin' Donuts in the shopping center next to my office, and I bought a box of 25 munchkins.

Just before 9 AM, I arrived at my office and put the donuts in the room where everyone goes to pick up the papers that they've printed. Everyone knows that food left here has been offered to everyone.

By 11 AM, the donuts were gone.

Happy birthday Blessed Mother!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day!

Some may point out that one of the main points of weekday work is to point to the leisure of Sunday, the day of the Resurrection. We work during the week in order to better celebrate Sunday.

Therein, a day to commemorate labor and its productivity may be too much, may misplace the spotlight, and may miss the point.

But I think that celebrating Labor Day actually is quite in line and has a very good point. By not going to work today - instead, I'm at home with my family in Pennsylvania - I indeed hoped to point towards the intrinsic value of my weekday labor, which is importantly linked and points to Sunday.

Indirectly but also uniquely, Labor Day has pointed me to Sunday and therein has helped to point me to the full importance of my work.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hosting a meeting, with a servant's heart

When several collaborators from Peru came to our laboratory this week to find out more about what we were doing with their data, some folks on our project seemed a little irritated to have to devote so much time to the meetings. But "Bill" took it in stride.

As the meetings began, Bill made sure to ask our visitors, "We are very grateful that you have come so far and we want to make sure that your visit is as worthwhile as possible. What do you hope to take away from these meetings?" Attentively and deliberately, he was giving them control. He was positioning us as "servants" to their needs.

Earlier, the question had arose about what we should do at lunchtime. Should we all pay for ourselves? Should we try to charge the lunch to our project budget? Bill was emphatic. "They are our guests. We will treat them." Ultimately, he treated all of us from his own money. Again, his actions bespoke a servanthood towards our collaborators.

On a technical level, the meetings were very helpful. But perhaps the most important things that I learned were from Bill's example. If I am ever in his position, towards the front a meeting with international visitors, I will try to follow his example.