November 6, 2007

The Boss

The boss stone in a cathedral is a kind of keystone that sits in the ceiling at the intersection of stone ribs. The soundness of the structure depends on the boss stone. It absorbs the tension of the ribs, distributes the load, and bears the weight of the whole. Without it, the whole thing is always in danger of collapse. And yet, what you notice when you look up is the vaulting ceiling, the stone pillars curving inward, the soaring arches. You almost never even notice the bosses, and certainly you don’t accord them the kind of importance that they deserve.
This is a week when some big bosses in the corporate sector have lost their jobs. I wonder if it is because they wanted to be noticed, rather than providing the support for their organizations. I wonder if they were impressed with the weight of their own positions, rather than feeling the weight of being responsible to their employees and shareholders. I wonder if those of us who are flesh-and-blood bosses are prone to forget what the stones seem to know. And is that a particular, terrible tendency in the church?

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