Thursday’s Gonna Come

Two days of thought-provoking, soul-searching conversations filled with laughter and tears and wishing that “what is” could be better and dreaming of how we can make it so…..

and returning with a jolt to the real world of laundry and dishwashers with broken baskets and worrying over food allergies all over again and struggling to understand how your children have more cavities and wishing just this once this child could understand the assignment and get it done without all the struggles–

and all those first world kind of problems.

It would be easy to get on my pity pot and look upon all of this as an interruption.

An interruption to where my mind is going–thinking of what can be done, must be done, to make the world a better place–an interruption to the wheels spinning and all the IMPORTANT things that I MUST DO.

And then, just in the nick of time, I got an e-mail from one of my heroes.

One of the reasons he is my hero is I can look to him for a way to understand things, a way to take action–he sets a good example, and he is willing to share about his experiences so we can all learn from them.

Hugh Hollowell sent out a newsletter titled “The Interruptions Are Our Work.”

Well.

He was spot on with this one–timing and everything.

This man who shared his ideas and laughter and inspired me to dig deeper as we talked and listened Sunday and Monday–he continued on into Thursday.

And for that I am thankful.

Because, my friends, no matter what grand thoughts Sunday and Monday call you to have and think upon, Thursday will come.  With its laundry and coughs and worries and cavities.  It will come.

And here is the grace for Thursday, in the words of Hugh Hollowell of Love Wins Ministry:

“But I have come to see that that is okay. In fact, it’s good. Because more than ever, I can see that the interruptions to my work, the people who interrupt my work, well, they actually are my work. And there’s much work to be done.”

I do not mean to make light of the work that my friend and his staff are doing in North Carolina with people who are dealing with homelessness.  But I do find comfort in these words.  The interruptions are my work.

In this season.

For now.

For far too short a time, these little people and their needs–their meals, their learning, their dirty clothes, their laughter, and regretfully, yes, even their cavities–this is my work.

And I’m privileged to do it.  I just need a wake up call every now and again to remind me of that.

Today I read a comment in the world of social media that made me very sad.  This person wrote that caring for my children, for my home, for my aging parents, for an elderly relative–these things are not contributing to society.  He/she continued on to say that if I were out in the world caring for people who were not my own, whom I wasn’t “obligated” to care for, only then could it really be said that I am contributing to society.

It made me sad because I don’t think this person gets it.  And he or she obviously has never had the privilege and joy of hearing David LaMotte and Hugh Hollowell speak.  I distinctly heard them say that caring for those in our own homes, own families–that’s a part of changing the world for the better.

Tonight I’m thankful for that message.  For the knowing in my heart that what I’m doing matters–and I’m thankful that when I lose sight of that message–I can open up an email from my hero and mentor and read that all of these things that I think might be interruptions of the “important work” there is to do–

This is my important work.

Know this, my friends, what you are doing today matters.

I’m sorry, did you miss that?  Read it with me.

IMG_6730

What

you

are

doing

today

MATTERS.

Whether you are wiping runny noses or signing paychecks

whether you are singing “Let It Go” with your child for the 1,267th time

or planning a going away for a colleague

whether you are reading a book

or writing one

whether you are knitting a dress for your granddaughter’s doll

or buying one at the GW Boutique for your neighbor’s friend

WHAT YOU ARE DOING TODAY MATTERS.

The smile you choose to put on your face, in spite of your worries

The hug you give your grandmother who has aged so much since you last saw her

The friend you are driving to the doctor’s office

The cup of coffee you just rang up for the customer with the bad attitude and no cash for tips

The person you just let merge in front of you in traffic

The change you just dropped in the jar for the family in need

The song you carry in your heart

The shoulder you offer for others to lean and cry on

The laughter you share with another over a memory or joke

WHAT YOU ARE DOING TODAY MATTERS.

No matter where you are, what you are doing.  It is changing the world.

You don’t get a choice in that.

But you do get a choice in how it matters.  Whether it changes life for those around you for the better or not.

Even if they seem not to notice it.

It still matters.

Make it good.

Love to all.

 

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Hugh Hollowell’s newsletter can be read in its entirety here.  I highly recommend signing up to receive those in your inbox.  You never know when they might change your day.  For the better.

Riding the Bus With Rosa Parks

This afternoon I rode on the bus with Rosa Parks in 1955, with Hugh Hollowell as the bus driver and David LaMotte as our time machine travel director.

He guided us back to the year in which Ms. Parks stayed in her seat, dispelling myths and helping us to think about what it must have been like–as the ones at the front of the bus and the back.

He shared with us about hero versus movement narrative.  While Ms. Parks has been labelled a hero, this protest was a part of a movement–a community of people who set about to make change with their actions–together.

As we sat there, and Hugh took the money from the “folks” boarding the bus, the scenario played out.

And then David asked the question, “What bus are you on?”

And we sat.

And thought.

Not the most comfortable few minutes of my life by any means.

What bus am I on?  What in this world troubles me?  Makes my heart ache?

What injustice do I feel so strongly about that I’m willing to take a stand?  (Or a seat?)

I think perhaps the most grace-filled thing I heard today was it’s not about fixing the world or saving the world, it’s about changing the world.

And these two great thinkers and champions for peace shared the good news that changing the world can take place right here, in our own communities, in our own homes, in our own hearts.

You don’t have to get a passport and board a plane to change the world.

You can do it in your day to dailies.

They didn’t say this, but I daresay it’s not 100% what you are doing but in part, the attitude you have–the why and how you are doing it–that can make a huge difference in how you change the world.

So much yet to process and think about from the past two days of listening to and sharing stories with these two very smart, very kind, and very real people.  But I couldn’t let the day go by without marking it and sharing with you all this very good news.

You are changing the world right now.  In the choices you are making.  In what you decide comes next.  In your attitude and in your relationships.  You are changing the world.

Go and be awesome today. Do something kind.  That’s a beautiful start to changing this world for the better.

 

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I have long admired, respected, and been inspired by the work, words, and writing of David LaMotte and Hugh Hollowell.  I was fortunate enough to meet Mr. LaMotte last March.  It has been a hope of mine that I would be able to meet Mr. Hollowell in person (in meat space) as well.  Yesterday that wish came true.  I have spent the past two days in great conversations and being inspired to be a better me by these two men who are constantly working on being “better” and living more intentionally.

To learn more about their stories, click here:

David LaMotte

Hugh Hollowell

Love Wins Ministry

Facts about Rosa Parks and What Really Happened  and also here  (I recommend you research this for yourself and read more about it.  Very different from the story we were told in school many years ago.)

Tonight I’m thankful for safe journeys, soul tanning, food for thought, and sharing stories.

Love to all.

 

 

Don’t Count Us Out

Yesterday as the news feeds and Facebook posts proclaimed their great sadness over the death of Maya Angelou, I too was sad.  I am sad when anyone in this world loses someone they love–a feeling I understand all too well–but I’ll admit that I was also saddened by something else.  I just couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was.

And then this morning David LaMotte, a man whom I had the privilege of meeting a few months ago, shared his thoughts and feelings in a post on his Facebook page. This singer/songwriter/author/man of peace touched on exactly what was breaking my heart.

“Shocked into stillness this morning, having just realized that in all of the craziness of the European tour, I did not realize that Vincent Harding died last week. One more giant has left us.  I didn’t know Vincent Harding well at all, but I got to meet him and talk a bit a couple of times at the Wild Goose Festival. This picture is from last year’s WGF. This legendary civil rights hero, theologian, historian and author, who wrote speeches for Martin Luther King, was completely available and interested in Mason [David’s son], asking him questions and engaging. That seems to have been pretty typical of him.

In the last year we’ve lost Nelson Mandela, Pete Seeger, Maya Angelou, Vincent Harding… and I’m sure many others. But please, please, my friends, don’t say “We’ll never see their like again.”

Each of these people, and many more unnamed, were people who made daily choices, who worked out their courage muscles one day at a time. They were not a different kind of person. They just made decisions. If we merely applaud, and wonder at how strong they were, then we are completely missing one of the central points that they were trying to make—that it is up to all of us to bring whatever gifts we have to the work of creating and supporting what is good for all of us, and standing in the way of what is oppressive and destructive. All of us. It is up to us whether we see their like again. It is up to us to choose whether we will be spectators or participants.

The famous Catholic activist Dorothy Day said “Don’t call us saints. We don’t want to be dismissed that easily.” Let’s honor these heroes by taking some small steps in the direction they pointed us. Though we remember them for their leaps, they all took small steps to begin with, and those steps mattered, and continued to take small steps throughout their lives. They had good days and bad days like all of us, but they kept choosing to live in the kind of hope that doesn’t simply comfort us with pleasant visions, but drives us to take action to actively move toward them.

Thank you, Vincent Harding, for being kind to me and my son, and for inspiring more than one generation. We’ll try to pay attention.” –David LaMotte 5/29/2014

Amen.  Please don’t count us out.  We too have the chance to do great things.  I wrote in a card to one of my favorite graduates in the class of 2014–it is in the making of kind and compassionate choices, one after another, each one, that great things begin.  I think that’s how each one of the people mentioned by David LaMotte made a difference in this world.  Kindness.  Not letting a bump in the road stop them. Continuing onward.
Don’t count us out.  And please don’t count out my children.  The ones I’m doing my best to raise to love folks and make a difference in this world–by being good stewards of all around them, just as my folks taught me.  Are we all going to fail at some point?  Yes.  But it’s in the getting up, wiping off our hands and bruised hearts that we shed light and goodness in the world.  It’s in the “keep on keeping on,” as my Daddy would say, despite the bumps and bruises and heartaches, that we change the world for the better.  And ourselves.
David LaMotte has already said it all, far better than I could have.  And I am thankful for that.  I think the greatest tribute to the lives of these good people so loved, whom have left this life, is for us all to live as they did, and “actively move forward” toward the “pleasant visions” of peace and love and caring for each other.
In other words, for us to do as they did.  And DO.
And finally a few more wise words from another good person, Hugh Hollowell, who commented on David LaMotte’s post: “We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the answer to our prayers.”
Oh my.  Yes.
Love to all.
**I looked to see if there is someone to attribute Hugh Hollowell’s words to–the closest I can find is from a poem by June Jordan here and a book by Alice Walker here. **

The Most Important Question I’ve Asked My Children

If I could start every day with a welcome given by David LaMotte and end it with a benediction given by this same talented singer/songwriter, I could never say I’d had a bad day.  Figure out how to make this happen, and you can hold me to it.  His words and the grace and light they share…..tears, y’all.  Listening to him perform last night, I held it together through his song about his grandparents’ home and going back to visit it, and that took some doing.  My Granny’s house is the one place I yearn most to be right now.  I even held it together during his bathtub song, but for that one I was holding in a huge guffaw (I so like that word!), so it was a little different kind of self-control.  But at the end, when he said, “You are (fill in the blank), and you are loved,” over and over, something let go and I was crying.  (The funny thing is that in talking with friends, the “You are loved” part is what stuck with us and what we all remember–isn’t that telling?)

His “World Changing 101” workshop this morning was full of simple and wise and mind-blowing thoughts and questions that begged to be asked and thought about.  I am still working to wrap my brain around so much of what we talked about, and I know more of these thoughts will show up here in the next few days.

This morning David shared with us the work he and his wife Deanna are doing in Guatemala.  They were there for their honeymoon in 2004.  They visited a school while they were there.  They were not looking for a mission, but while visiting they saw needs that they thought they could help with and PEG Partners was born.  That is usually how it happens, right?  When we least expect it?

He talked a little this morning about how they are working with schools in Guatemala on critical thinking with literacy.  David said that these children were going through years of school without ever being asked what they thought about a story or book.

Wait.  What?

I have to admit that I didn’t hear everything he shared for the next few minutes, because my head was spinning.  What would that even look like?  I can hardly fathom it.  I grew up with Mama reading to us, asking us questions, making her voice animated for different characters.  She brought books to life and let us ask questions, which we did, and she asked us questions about the pictures, about the story.  It was interactive.  I cannot imagine anything different.

But what if it were?  What if no one had asked me what I thought?  We are currently reading an intriguing book about the Revolutionary War as a read-aloud.  Our Princess, Cooter, and I have all been tossing out our ideas as to whether we think the schoolmaster is completely trustworthy.  When we finish a chapter, and I share the title of the next one, they are eager to offer their ideas on what might happen.  When discussing battles, Cooter is especially fond of second-guessing General Washington or General Howe and offering his own ideas of how to plan the next attack.  This is not something I planned.  It’s just something that has happened.

It was during this head-spinning/mind-blown/in my own world moment that I realized that very possibly the most important question I ask my children is, “What do you think?”

When we are heading home from a play at the Grand or from their Sparks Stories bible time, I usually ask, “What was your favorite part? What did you like?”  Sometimes, when Cooter’s a little cranky and nothing suits him, I’ll ask, “Well, what would you have changed?”

When we sit down at supper together, one of us asks from time to time, “What was your favorite thing today?”

Princess is an avid reader.  She can often read one of the books in the Fairy series, her favorite chapter books, on the drive between finding the treasure at our local used bookstore and pulling in our driveway.  When she’s extra excited about one, she loves to share about it.  There’s no need to ask her, “What did you think?”  She’s already telling you.

Cooter and his Star Wars obsession has now moved on to include Indiana Jones and Harry Potter.  No, he hasn’t seen any of those movies either.  But thanks to Lego and their videos and well-done marketing ploys, he knows some of the edited storylines, and he is FASCINATED.  He talks about each one of the three storylines non-stop.  All. Day.  Long.  Sometimes all three at once.  There is no need to ask him, as I once did, “What did you think Buddy?” or “What do you think will happen?” because you already know.  He told you yesterday.  And three times the day before. And last week.

My point is this.  Asking our children what they think, what they enjoyed, what they anticipate will happen, what they would have changed–all of those things do help develop critical thinking.  This is a skill that will serve them well in this world that needs people who can think and plan and problem solve.

But it also does one other thing.

Perhaps the most important thing a question can ever do.

It says to a child, a person, a friend, an acquaintance, a stranger, another human being–

You have a voice.

Please share it and I will listen.

You matter.  What you think matters.

And that is something this world really needs.  People with strong voices and thoughts and hearts who have been encouraged and empowered to speak out.

If we teach our children what is truly important in this world–the very things I’ve heard David LaMotte share and talk about for the past two days–faith, action, love, kindness, justice, mercy–and we teach them that their voices are valuable, worthy of being heard–I think, just maybe, we might be on the right track toward healing broken hearts and mending broken fences.  And silencing the sounds of war and the cries of those enslaved.  By ending all of those things.  And somewhere in there, I suspect, there will be laughter.

At least with my crew around.

If you have littles around, take time to ask them an important question.  If not, ask anyone who’s around.  And then really listen.  We all need to know our voices count.

Love to all.  Carry on.