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Posts Tagged ‘Community’

Have you ever taken a step that leads you on a totally unexpected, but life-nourishing journey? Recently I took that step: a trip to Ghana as guest teacher with a group of young university students from the U.S.

Ghanain Girl in Kente Cloth

Our theme was race and identity. We posed a few questions: Who am I? Whose am I? What do I stand for? What grounds me? As we pondered the questions, doors unexpectedly opened not only for the students, but also for me. I found in myself a hunger that was deeper than expected, further hidden than I remembered. My hunger was for belonging, for community, for soul-satisfying nourishment.

In Ghana, I was profoundly reminded of how easy it is to slip into the script of a culture that focuses almost exclusively on the individual, a culture that has lost sight of the value of the collective, a culture where we distract ourselves with daily minutia that leaves us exhausted and depleted. When we buy into this script, it is easy to lose our deep regard for and connection to one another.. We lose our way and we can no longer flourish.

While in Ghana, together, we were reminded of the importance of consciousness, of finding our intentional community where we’re loved and honored simply because we’re human beings. It is here where we have a shared sense of community and a shared sense of values, history, and possibility for the future. We share a deep regard for creativity and the innate creative capacity of others, and we have a deep appreciation for all things cultural, social, and spiritual, for all that nourishes the collective. For when the collective is nourished, it flourishes, and the individuals within it also flourish.

As for the polarity that we create between the individual and the community… how will we work to remove this schism? We must attend to the human community – our relationships with family, friends, and even strangers. We must choose that which is life affirming and life giving. We did it in Ghana. I know we can do it at home.

Pass It On!

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As I reflect the many people–parents, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, & neighbors–who poured blessings into my life, I think about the power & blessings of family… the power and blessing of community. It didn’t matter if the folks in my community were related to me or not, I fondly hold them in my heart as members of my Personal Village.

What if we offered ourselves as ally and guide to others–as steward in the Personal Village of someone we love and beyond?

– Because when we open ourselves to others, we invite them into our lives, which opens the window of collaboration… and to celebrating the people in our midst and beyond.

– Because when we celebrate and lift others up, it becomes easier to address challenges in relationships, communities, and the world around us.

– Because when we reach out to address challenges, we create a golden pathway that leads to opportunity, creativity, and possibility.

– Because when we set our table with the feast of possibility, we provide bread for the journey for those who suffer adversity and calamity.

– Because when we honor and respect those who suffer and those who are vulnerable, we extend compassion, sanctuary, and peace.

– Because when we tender peace, we pour loving balm into small and great injuries and wounds-our own and others’.

Each moment, a ray of light. Each conversation, a gesture of hope. Each day, another prayer, another stitch. And so, we mend our world.

Mighty blessings to you… and to the keepers in your Personal Village.

Pass It On!

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Among Dr. King’s many commitments, he was profoundly committed to community and service. To this end, Dr. King encouraged us to ask ourselves: What are you doing for others?

During the past ten years, I’ve hosted tributes to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.–the icon and the man. Each year, a lovely community gathers in the Seattle area at a place called Third Place Commons.

Each year is different yet connected to previous years by the bond of community. One year I featured videos of Dr. King’s remarkable speeches and marches, and I led the audience in singing civil rights songs, call and responses style. Everyone beamed—children, elders, and those in between. Another year, we drew on our collective imagination to create a gigantic moving sculpture to reflect our vision of the Beloved Community. A few years ago, I recruited teachers and students in local schools to create a program featuring student work. They sang, danced, read their own poetry, and to our utter amazement constructed a marvelous oversized portrait of Dr. King before our very eyes. Using 8.5 x 11 “tiles,” each with some part of Dr. King’s face, the students silently positioned their tiles into a frame, creating a lovely mosaic of Dr. King. for several weeks, we left in on display. That year, in addition to creating their wonderful program, I invited the teachers and students to extend their learning about Dr. King and the many other warriors of the Civil Rights Movement. I invited them to commit to learning about this vital aspect of our nation’s history as a living, enduring part of their day-to-day curriculum.

There are so many ways to serve. Mine is to do what I can with I have where I am… to build community—through poetry, conversation, singing, laughter, art, dance, encouragement, and education.

Tell me, what’s yours?

Pass It On!

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In a few days, I’ll be part of a panel of leaders who declare that “You Were Born for Such a Time as This.” We’ll host a community dialogue on this theme.  I’d love to hear from you. Given the staggering problems we face today—the failing economic system, global climate change, overwhelming poverty in one of the richest nations in the world, the need for immigration reform, millions losing their homes and their jobs… how can one person make a difference in the face of such daunting challenges and odds? Tell me what you’re doing to live out loud, to wear your soul on the outside, to make a difference in the world.

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