I looked at the phone for the first time. 12:56. “Lunch hour” was almost over, and the server had not brought out our food yet. Nothing in me should have panicked, because the whole office was there, celebrating our new staff, Dan and Skye. Staying and enjoying myself was not going to bring me any trouble. A pinprick of worry ran through me, though, from years of the industrial expectation that every minute designated “work time” is going to be spent “being productive” (that is, completing quantifiable tasks).
Dan felt this tension, too. “I really enjoy this,” he said of the relaxed and relational atmosphere of our office. A broad and honest smile lingered on his face. “I’ve missed this attitude that just being together is an important part of the work that we do. But a small part of me is still working through the guilt that this isn’t good. The objection that could be made is that it is lazy to spend time getting to know each other.”
We talked about how almost everyone who works with us was invited personally, not because they had an impressive list of qualifications that a big-box-employer deemed worthy. We create a space where people are free to be themselves, to admit when things aren’t perfect, and to rely on each other. “Discipleship,” a very Christian word for learning how to be more like Jesus, happens not primarily through a program of meeting with a designated mentor every two weeks for coffee and Bible study, but through the lived experience of being part of a community of work and play characterized by generosity, honesty, perseverance, and genuine affection.
Such graciousness can shock the system. The invitation that says, “You are welcome” to be yourself here and to become better here, is a rare one. When it comes, a savory squash soup in a real bowl–not a disposable paper cup–you will be freed. This is good.