The conversations in the room quieted to a hush. The small woman took her place at the front of the board room. It didn't really feel like a board room, though. Multicolored candles sat on the mantel over a gas fireplace and the far wall was actually all windows, revealing a small courtyard. The fountain in the middle was off, wooden boards protecting it from the winter that still hadn't hit in early November.
I pushed the remains of my sandwich forward and held my Diet Coke as the woman began her talk. This lunchtime speaker series happened only in the fall and spring, and I didn't want to wait until spring to hear about the dynamic duo of faith and work, so that's why I sacrificed an hour of my day off. A day when I would usually sleep in (or not, maybe I'd wake up too early and wander around the apartment waiting for someone to hang out with), wear sweatpants all day, watch TV episodes online, and just generally recuperate until work again the next day. One day weekends get me like that.
No, instead I was up and dressed like an adult with a real job (okay, fine, business casual) attending an optional talk in a place I both lived and worked. An optional talk that resonated with most of my reasons for moving to Chicago in the first place. What this woman, Karen, was saying was that there is a difference between helping and serving. Helping is when one person has more than the other. More money, more resources, more something. Serving is a meeting of equals. Of two equally imperfect people both trying to figure out something--how to maneuver through life, the meaning of life in the first place.
There was more to the talk--a handful of pretty funny stories, totally relatable too, and a short discussion on what all resonated. I mean, of course faith and work relate directly to our work here. More than that, though, they form two opposite courses of action, ways to show the world what you believe and how you find God. And little by little, with the help of things like today, I'm bringing them together in my mind. That one dichotomy has tripped me up many times, but eventually I'll get it. Until then I just have to keep doing me, doing what I do, hoping it does good in some realm of this universe.