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Starbucks, & Spirituality

So, I got a job. Yay!

I started training at Starbucks this week. (And, because I'm telling the whole internet, I'll probably eventually get stalkers or something. Oh, well.) It's a good company, I'll say that. I'm actually impressed with their ethics (at least their professed ethics!) and values of being connected & committed to the communities they are part of. I mean, if I'm going to work for a corporation, it's nice to know they (at least pretend to) care about their employees and suppliers. And the planet.
On my first day of orientation, I was impressed at language they used to describe the ideal working environment. In one pamphlet, called "The Green Apron Book," five goals/values are listed:
  • Be Welcoming.
  • Be Genuine.
  • Be Knowledgeable.
  • Be Considerate.
  • Be Involved.
I really liked that. In fact, it almost sounded spiritual to me. It sounds like an excellent list of goals/values for a church. "Offer everyone a sense of belonging. Connect, discover, respond. Love what you do; share it with others. Take care of yourself, each other, and the environment."

In fact, when my supervisor read me the mission statement, I was struck by the ways in which they are endeavoring to be connected, at every level.

And don't we all want to be connected?

I've been reading a LOT of Madeleine L'Engle lately. I just finished "A Wind in the Door" today, and as usual, I was crying at the end. Her books have (re)highlighted this idea of connection. She puts forth the deeply spiritual idea that everything is intertwined--from galaxies to the smallest part of the molecules that make us up.

I love that.

Because, for all our instant communication technology (which I'm not knocking; I just had a conversation with my bro via text, and one with a very good friend via facebook), we aren't very connected to anything these days.

So. Maybe coffee is just coffee. Or, maybe, (not to sound like I've been drinking the espresso-flavored kool-aid) it's more than that. I'm looking for a way to keep a positive attitude about this job; I'm trying to find ways to integrate it into who I am. So that it's not just someplace I go and rush around at for eight hours so I can pay my bills. I don't want it to be something I endure...I want it to be part of who I am. I'm still figuring out how that might work.

But if Madeleine L'Engle is right (and I think she is...I hope she is...) then maybe making a good cup of coffee for someone and serving it to them with a smile is a way of fighting on the side of good.

That sounded dramatic. I mean, it's just coffee, right? Consumerism at it's finest?


Maybe not.

Maybe I'm just a little farandola who is finally learning how to Deepen.


Anonymous said...

what's farandola?


J. M. Richards said...

Cynthia: I'm so glad you asked!!

A farandola is a mythical organism that Madeleine L'Engle made up/speculated about that live in our mitochondria.
In "A Wind in the Door," something is wrong with Charles Wallace's farandolae, and it causes him to be very sick. So his sister Meg (& a few others) actually visit his mitochondria & meet his farandolae. They are being tempted (by the enemy) to stay "young" and not "Deepen;" but if the farandolae didn't Deepen and become farae, the mitochondria would get weaker and weaker (thus making Charles Wallace very ill, at a sub-cellular level).
I realize that all sounds very strange, but it's a rather brilliant parallel on L'Engle's part; she likens the farandolae's place in the human body to our place in the galaxy. She says that size has no relevance, and that even the smallest part has a tremendously important role to play.
So Sporos, one of the faranolae Meg & co meet, must be convinced to Deepen & mature, even though he sees it as a loss of freedom. They keep trying to remind him of the bigger picture, that the life of a little boy is at stake, and if that little boy dies, then Sporos and the other farandolae will die, too. Deepening is a farandola's purpose, and though it seems limiting, the mature fara insist that they have a better understanding of their role & connection.

I know that's a long answer, and sounds kind of out there, but it works in the story. And it really is a great analogy!

Flo said...

Making coffee is one of the most satisfying and rewarding jobs I've ever had. It is simple, and in a way you're just feeding peoples addiction and often debt... but the entire process of berry to cup is kind of amazing, and it is really fun to connect with people, and brighten up their days. Plus starbucks has a flippin' awesome health plan if you can work enough hours to qualify :)

Anonymous said...

oh, thanks.