The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


August 26, 2005

Such comfortable beds!

That’s what our staff thought of the super-deep mattresses with quilted tops that we fell into each night after our routine 15-hour days putting out The Daily Lutheran during Churchwide Assembly. At our 7 a.m. planning sessions, we’d comment that the nights were short—but, oh, what good sleep we enjoyed on the marvelous beds at the assembly hotel, the Marriott World Center in Orlando.

Those conversations came back to me earlier this week when I read a front-page story in the Chicago Tribune about how hard these beds are on the backs of the hotel maids whose job it is, of course, to make them. One 49-year-old housekeeper told the Tribune that “she strips the bed, removing the five pillows on each double bed (there used to be only two), the feathered duvet covers that she estimated are three bound heavier that the old bedspreads, and two sheets per bed. To make the beds, she must life the mattresses that she said are noticeable heavier than the old ones.”

This made news because the hotel workers and union representatives claimed that injuries are piling up because of the heavier mattresses and bedding—part of the reason they sought the Illinois law that guarantees two, 15-minute paid breaks for housekeepers in Cook County hotels. No surprise, however, the industry sought—and won—a restraining order putting the law on hold, claiming the breaks would hurt productivity and profits.  The story will be continued.

Yesterday I finished Houston Smith’s new book, The Soul of Christianity. (Many of us know him from his popular PBS series with Bill Moyers, The World’s Religions.) Now in his 80s, Smith takes a loving look back—and ahead—at his own Christian faith. He talks about the “Word of the Cross,” meaning what Jesus’ death says to his followers throughout the ages: “Every time we abuse the poor, every time we pollute our God-given planet, indeed, every time we act selfishly, God dies naked on the cross of our ego.”

 I read that and could not help but think of the hotel maids and our good night’s sleep on those deep mattresses. And I wasn’t comfortable.

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