On the eighth day, God created the podcast.
My favorite podcast is On Being, a weekly radio program where Krista Tippett engages in “spacious conversations” about life, creativity, spirituality, and how we connect with each other. She interviews fascinating people like Desmond Tutu, Rachel Naomi Remen, John Polkinghorn, and the Dalai Lama.
On Mondays, I go for a long run and listen to the latest episode of On Being. A few weeks ago, Krista interviewed Tami Simon, who dropped out of college and started her business, Sounds True, with a tape recorder and $50,000 she inherited after the death of her father. Sounds True is all about disseminating spiritual wisdom. I liked her right away.
As I sat listening to the wisdom that came from her philosophy on work and rest, I was inspired to think differently about how I run meetings, about how I engage with email and voicemail, and even how I am nourished while at work. She has cultivated space at her work for employees to show up with their minds, bodies, and souls, and I found myself hungry to taste more.
Here are three of my favorite quotes from that interview.
“God, I’m willing to do your work. Please show me what it is.”
This was the prayer that Tami Simon prayed when trying to discover what it was she was supposed to do in terms of vocation. It’s compelling in its simplicity, but also in what’s beneath it. It assumes that there is work that God wants us do to. It assumes God might actually show us what it is, moment by moment, and not just to start us off in the right vocation. And it assumes a posture that is willing to do it, no matter what it is, once it has been shown. What would it be like to pray a simple but dangerous prayer like that, at the intersections of our life and even of our day?
“You can always ask, where’s the emptiness in this?”
This one stunned me, and almost made me stop running. After one of her talks, during a Q & A session, a woman asked, “Can I tell you what the most important part of your talk was, for me? It was when you paused. What was happening for you during that moment?” Asking “where’s the emptiness” is about paying attention to our moments and our meetings and our shopping trips and our conversations to try to see what is happening, beneath the busyness. That’s when the creativity begins to flow, she said, when we look for the emptiness. She challenged us to look for the “Swiss cheese quality” of life, because there are gaps everywhere, and we can be wholly responsive to the situation at hand when we become more aware of the emptiness. I love this idea, especially because I tend to run like a freight train, getting things done and moving on to the next thing. What does it mean to notice the gaps, and not rush to fill them?
“Normally a tense and interruptive comment comes from a clenched body.”
Apparently, how you hold your body influences what you think and say. Tami Simon talked a lot about paying attention to our bodies, especially in meetings. Are you leaning forward a lot? Perhaps you need to work on leaning back a little bit. Are you holding your hands as fists, or are they relaxed? Are your feet planted on the floor, and are you opened up, or are you all crossed up (legs, arms) and closed off? I notice how often I’m crossed up and closed off, and I wonder what that is communicating to others. Being conscious of our bodies, and deciding to open up and lean in, might help us to connect with each other in creative and generative ways. What would it take for you to pay attention to your body today?
I have a very full day today, full of people and meetings and the need for me to be engaged and creative. Inspired by Tami Simon, here are three prayers I am going to try to be conscious of today as I move through my work and my being my actual self:
- God, I am wiling to do your work. Please show me what it is, in the moment, right now.
- God, please show me where the gaps and spaces are in this day, so that I might see where fresh creativity needs to flow – into me or out from me.
- God, help me to open up with my body, relaxing into the newness and potential of every moment, rather than close myself off with tension and anxiety.
How about you? What are you going to try today?
You can listen to the entire podcast of Krista Tippett’s conversation with Tami Simon here.