5 minutes with Francis: Dignity of work

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NCR's new blog series "5 minutes with Francis" poses the question: If you managed to meet up with Pope Francis during his U.S. visit -- and you had his full, undivided attention for five minutes -- what would you say to him?

Ruth Hruby:

I am an 85-year-old sheep farmer in southern Minnesota. I never had an idol in all my life until you appeared on the balcony to be introduced as our papa and you bowed asking for our prayers then you took yours and all of ours and blessed us with them. Soon afterwards I saw a picture of you riding a bus or subway. I framed it and put it in front of my kitchen clock. I have most of everything you wrote and what others have written about you in English.

I started remembering what this farm was like when I was a child. I have been aware of the deterioration and loss in our plants, animals and community. I have yet to read an essay or hear a sermon on Ascension Thursday that reflects on Mark 16:15 when Jesus tells us to “preach to all creatures” just before He ascends.

My experience of not being able to find good helpers for my yard and garden even when I paid $10 an hour is a real problem for my neighbor who runs Community-Supported Agriculture -- for the Hmong couple who come for the summer to garden for a restaurant and their own farmers market, and all those who have help wanted ads in our little town weekly newspaper. This leads me to believe we have lost the experience of the joy and dignity of work. We will sweat in a fitness center but not in a garden. Our little county does a good job taking care of our poor and elderly. But something has happened that even those who could help some no longer feel the need to do something. We no longer enjoy the rhythms of rest and delight of the Sabbath.

I really consider it an omission on your part that you have not emphasized that we all need dignity more than food, clothing and shelter because in examining what that dignity is we would find the root cause of addiction, suicide, struggle for power, climate change, etc. We would celebrate the Sabbath again. I still have a few chickens I raise for omega-3 eggs that expect a special treat every Sunday and Holy Day!

What would you say during five minutes with Pope Francis? Pick one subject, and send us a brief note (300-400 words max) about the subject, and what you would say. Send your answer to francis5minutes@gmail.com.

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