I've recently returned from 3 weeks in South Africa. One of the things that made an impression on me was the personal service we received in places like shops, restaurants, petrol stations. While not universally good, mostly it was friendly, helpful and enabled us as customers to feel cared for and special. Some people have the gift of cheering the spirits of others. The voice of the cynic in me said that if wages are low then customer tips are important and providing excellent service helps ensure a good tip. Whether or not that was the motivation for some, the people offering the service still provided a positive experience for the customer. At home in the UK the customer experience varies enormously. However there is one supermarket where I regularly shop partly because I know the experience will be positive, the staff are courteous, helpful and will go the extra mile when needed. And they don't expect to be tipped! A supermarket cashier in Rhode Island Maxine Dennis shared her philosophy of work in these words:
"Cashiering in a supermarket may not seem like a very rewarding position to most. But to me it is. You see, I feel that my job consists of a lot more than ringing up orders, taking people’s money, and bagging their groceries. The most important part of my job is not the obvious. Rather it’s the manner in which I present myself to others that will determine whether my customers will leave the store feeling better or worse because of their brief encounter with me. For by doing my job well, I know I have a chance to do God’s work too. Because of this, I try to make each of my customers feel special. While I’m serving them, they become the most important people in my life."
Source: Of Human Hands: a Reader in the Spirituality of Work (ed. Gregory F. Augustine Pierce)
What a lovely attitude and good example to follow!
If you were to go to her grave at Winchester Cathedral, England on 9 August you might find flowers placed there that day by Mothers' Union members. That is because this is the day when she is commemorated in the Church of England calendar, although she actually died on the 11th not the 9th August 1921.
Born Mary Elizabeth Heywood in 1828 in Manchester, she married George Sumner in 1848. He was a Church of England clergyman. For many years she supported her husband's work in the parish of Old Alresford near Winchester, Hampshire, England.
Mary Sumner saw the need for a supportive group of mothers.She wanted to bring together women who could support and learn from one another about how to be a good example to children and keep prayer central to family life.
In the summer of 1876 she convened the first group meeting in the Rectory of Old Alresford, inviting 40 local women from all social cla…
What is a holiday? What do holidays mean for
you? A change of scene or routine? An escape from work or study? A chance to
spend more time with family and friends or retreat to be alone? What is a holiday?Your answer may not be the same as mine. We are all different. What is common to all is the human need to
balance work with regular recreation and rest. What does the word 'holiday' mean?The
origin of the English word ‘holiday’ is the Old English ‘halig daeg’ (holy day). ‘Holy’
means ‘set apart’. So a day of holiday is a day that is different from other days. A ‘holy day’ is a day set apart from ordinary days.On a 'holy day' the
usual demands of work are suspended to free up time for celebrating an aspect of
faith. For example, for Christians, the 'holy day' of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus. In the Hebrew Scriptures the 4th of the '10 commandments' is to remember to keep a regular sabbath day. This is an ancient commandment but its principle i…
Maximilian Kolbe died in Auschwitz Concentration Camp on 14 August 1941. He died horribly after volunteering to take the place of another prisoner selected for death by dehydration and starvation. You can read a brief version of that story in 'Man in Striped Pajamas'.
During World War II as a Polish Franciscan Friar, Maximilian Kolbe sheltered refugees from Greater Poland, including 2000 Jewish people in his friary at Niepokalanów. Using amateur radio he also actively spoke against Nazi activities. Such actions led to his arrest, imprisonment and death. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1983 as a 'martyr of charity'. At the ceremony in Rome, perhaps the most significant person present was Franciszek Gajowniczek. He was the prisoner whose place Maximilian took in offering his own life in exchange. That man survived Auschwitz and lived until 1995, aged 93. You can read an interesting biography of Maximilian Kolbe in the Jewish Virtual Library. From that I learnt a l…
Who was Clare of Assisi? Was St Clare a teenage rebel who ran away from her wealthy home in Assisi? If that's what St Clare did in the early 13th century, why is she still remembered today, the day of her death, 11 August? Why is Clare of Assisi also known as St Clare? And what is her connection with St Francis of Assisi?
Are you like me, you don't know much about St Clare?Would you like to know more? And you don't want to get bogged down in too much theological or academic writing?
It is hard to understand Clare of Assisi without knowing something of the inspiration for simple Christian living that Clare found through the preaching of Francis of Assisi. The way of Francis, following in the way of Christ, inspired St Clare to found an order of contemplative nuns, known in her lifetime as 'the poor ladies of …
Have you ever had an 'awesome' experience? Many of you will say 'yes'. Some may say 'lots of times'. As an adjective, the word 'awesome' has become debased. It is now often used for anything someone likes, enjoys or admires. I dislike this modern usage.
I think that truly 'awesome' experiences are rare. I understand a truly 'awesome' experience to be one which leaves people awestruck, brought to their knees in silent wonder or paralysing fear, or prostrate on the ground, completely overwhelmed. 'Awesome' occasions may be deeply emotional.Think of an athlete completing a spectacular victory, or collapsing on the ground at the finish of a long gruelling race and hearing the roar of the crowd.
'Awesome' events may be moments of spiritual illumination. This can happen as we gaze at a beautiful landscape or painting, watch an amazing sunrise, or listen to great music that stirs the soul. 'Awesome' moments may be absolutely dr…