I’ve been carefully un-wrapping a wonderful gift.
It was conceived (immaculately) in the humble surroundings of staff meetings this fall as we shared the question of how we make sure that no one is left with the feeling that there’s ‘no room in the Inn.’ We were simply following a star that led us to this arched-roof stable where wise ones have been bringing their gifts for sixty cycles of seasons.
The question always sits at the center of the staff’s concerns: “How can we live out our affirmation’s promise to help one another?” How do we respond when we learn that someone is going through a difficult time and could use a call, a card, a visit, a meal, a ride…a friend?
The more computer-literate members of the staff (and they are all more computer-literate than I am) used the Google-Earth program to put a virtual pin on the household of every member and committed friend of the congregation. Then they divided that spread-out group into twenty-four neighborhoods we’re calling ‘Circles of Care.’
Our intention is to help everyone to feel cared for, and to participate in providing care — to feel connected in meaningful ways, realizing that the culture we live in often keeps us from making those deep, lasting connections. There are times for all of us when we need help, support and encouragement.
On December 5 forty of us gathered to give birth to that which had been conceived — with the help and midwifery skills of Jim and Pat Francek (our angels) we were introduced to part one of what’s known as the Appreciative Inquiry process. The first of the four D’s, is Discover, designed to help us to identify the elements of care within our congregation. After introductory comments they instructed us to think of a time when we felt cared for, or were able to offer care, and to write about it.
Then they put us into pairs to share what we had written, followed by sitting at a table with two or three of those pairs, reporting on our partner’s story. Then they asked us to think of words or phrases that expressed the vital core themes that had emerged, and to write them on the stars they gave us. We came up with words like ‘generosity, empowerment, being known, listening, growth, being present—showing up, etc.’
Reflecting on those words and phrases we were asked to identify the themes that had emerged, things like, “A well-developed awareness of each person’s needs; involve everyone regardless of age, ability and economic status; create a system of care that is sustainable, not offering more time than I can afford, coaching of caregivers, etc.”
On January 16, from 1 – 4, we’ll take two more steps toward the star: the Dream (or vision) statement and the Design (infrastructure) for delivering on our promise to ‘care.’ You are invited (encouraged) to participate. The next step is called Destiny (detailed action plan) which we’ll take together on February 27, from 10 – 2, including a pot-luck lunch. Mark your calendar, or program it into your Blackbury or whatever.
The gift we’re all unwrapping is the Life we’ve been given, the miracle that began in humble surroundings, like the mythological birth in a stable. We travel together, carrying gifts that we hope to share.
We hope you’ll be part of this process and hope, too, that your holidays go well.
P.S. from e e cummings
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower
who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
See i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly
i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don’t be afraid
look the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,
put up your little arms
and i’ll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won’t be a single place dark or unhappy
then when you’re quite dressed
you’ll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they’ll stare!
Oh but you’ll be very proud
And my little sister and i will take hands
And looking up at our beautiful tree
We’ll dance and sing