I have re-written this opening sentence eight times.
Ironic, isn’t it?
I want to write about how we have to continue to do our work when we don’t feel like doing our work.
When our heart is sick. When we feel sad, or angry, or afraid.
Which is the case for a large portion of my friends, clients, family and neighbors right now.
Last night, while walking to the soccer field to pick up Josh, my husband walked past a mom and her 5-year old son.
The little boy looked at Darryl and pointed.
“Look Mom, it is a fucking Indian!”
The Mom looked at Darryl and said “Sorry.”
He looked at her and said “It is not his fault. He is a kid. He heard it from his parents.”
She started screaming at him. I won’t quote what she said but suffice it to say it was a tirade of profanities and racial slurs as she spit in his face.
He lifted his hand to wipe the spit.
“Don’t you raise your hand at me!” she said.
“I was wiping the spit,” he said.
“You are lucky my husband isn’t here,” she said.
Darryl walked away.
When he recounted the story when he was back home, he told me “She must be in a lot of pain to react that way.”
This was not the first time this had happened to him.
It was more like the hundredth time.
There is work to be done
Our work is community building. Helping people feel safe, seen, heard and honored.
This is not easy work.
In the situation I described, I will admit that my first reaction was fear for my husband and son’s safety. What if her husband had been there? What if they carried a weapon? What if she called him and he confronted my family in the dark parking lot?
Then I got angry. I imagined what I would have said or done had I been there. I wanted to punch her in the face. I wanted revenge.
Waking up today, I know that situations like these, and the thousands that will continue to happen every day, require us to either disconnect from or reconnect to our work.
My friend Todd Henry said you know you are close to your purpose when you ask yourself “What am I willing to lay my body down for and say ‘Not on my watch?'”
For me and Darryl, we will never stop doing the work of connecting people to themselves, their power and the work they are meant to do. We are willing to lay our bodies down for people who feel afraid and unsafe and without power.
We believe in the leadership capacity of people in our communities. We believe in small business and interdependence and collaboration.
We believe in the concept of kinship and K’é: we are all related. We believe that love has the power to heal. We believe that our work is our prayer.
We believe in grieving with gratitude. Gratitude in grief keeps you free of cynicism and bitterness.
We want to be a safe and secure harbor in our community.
Which means that when things get grim and scary and overwhelming, we need to stand up, not sit down.
Do your own work your own way
There has been much said this week about what we should be doing, and how we should be doing it.
Do it your way.
Tap into what you know about yourself and your mission.
If you need to grieve, grieve.
If you need to protest, protest.
We honor you.
When I feel uneasy, I always lean on one of my favorite books, The Prophet, by Khalil Gibran. This is an excerpt from On Work:
“…You have been told also that life is indeed darkness, save when there is urge,
And that all urge is blind save when there is knowledge,
And all knowledge is vain save when there is work,
And all work is empty save when there is love;
And when you work with love you bind yourself to one another, and to God.
And what is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as your beloved were to eat the fruit.
It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,
And to know that all the blessed dead are standing about you and watching.”
We love our work, and we love you.
May our work build strength, peace, and justice in our land.