I just quit my job.
I supposed technically I should say, “I quit one of my jobs.” I have several. I write and speak and sell real estate. And, up until recently, I also worked at a parish. That was “the job where I went into an office and worked with the same people regularly,” a feature the other jobs don’t have.
And that’s the part of the job that I really miss.
If you’ve read anything I’ve written about singles…well, ever…you’ve probably noticed how big I am on the importance of community for singles. John Paul II said that everyone is created to live within what he called the “Communion of Persons” – in other words, surrounded by others who recognize the image and likeness of God in us, and in whom we recognize His image in return. He said, “The communion of persons means existing in a mutual ‘for,’ in a relationship of mutual gift.” We’re created to co-exist with others who care about us, who know what’s going on with us, and who have our backs and sincerely want what is best for us.
He didn’t say we’d all like to live within the communion of persons. He didn’t say it would be nice for us if it’s possible. He said we’re created for it. We need it.
I don’t know about you, but I believe that with every fiber of my being. I don’t need to be married (although it would be nice). But I know that I need community. I need to have people around me who know me and who care about what’s going on in my life.
The prototype of the communion of persons is, of course, the family. Husband and wife give themselves to each other in love, and out of that love come new human persons to love and give themselves to. In an ideal world, those children then go on to marry and form a new communion of persons.
We all know, however, that it doesn’t always work out that way.
Fortunately for us singles, the biological family – important as it is – is not the only form that the communion of persons takes. The parish is supposed to be a communion of persons. So is the workplace. So is any grouping of friends who really care about each other and are committed to wanting the best for each other.
I find that the workplace is particularly significant to us as singles because those are the people we are with day in and day out. In many cases our co-workers spend more time with us than they spend with their families. And that makes them, for better or for worse, very important people in our lives.
I was fortunate in my last job to supervise a staff of people who really, sincerely care about each other. That made being a manager much easier – and it made going to work every day much easier. And it actually made my life as a single person easier. It was nice to know that, whatever was going on in my life outside the office, there would be people there who would have my back – and better yet to know that they’d have each others’ backs. (Changing conditions in the office, however, made it clear it was time to move on.)
The “workplace as communion of persons” concept is not limited to the Church. In fact, the Church has no corner on that market whatsoever. I have seen secular workplaces that were permeated by a deep respect for the importance of each individual person, and I have seen faith-based organizations where management runs roughshod over their employees.
So what does your workplace look like? Are you treated as an image and likeness of God or as a cog in the wheel? Do your co-workers play a role in your communion of persons? How much?