I think we love well here.
HERE we practice loving ourselves, loving each other, and loving our communities (through the daily work of Monkee See – Monkee Do.) I am so awed and grateful that Momastery has turned into a place where we practice the art and science of love in ever-widening circles.
This year we are going to continue working on loving ourselves, each other, and our communities while adding a bigger circle. For an entire YEAR, your team at Momastery has been behind the scenes researching how to best extend this circle globally with humility and wisdom. Creating a plan that includes bold love while treading very, very lightly has been TOUGH. We have stopped and started one hundred times. Slow is important here. In love we must Walk Humbly.
In the end we’ve decided that we should stick to what we do best. We don’t know enough to ACT. No. We’d just stick to what we do best- we’d hear and tell stories that unite people In Love. We’d stick to our motto that “the most revolutionary thing you can do is introduce people to each other.” We want to introduce family members here to their family members over there. WE WANT TO PLAN A FAMILY REUNION.
Folks are always talking about heaven as the “kingdom of God” and as I tell my Sunday school kids: kin means family. Heaven happens on Earth every time we love others like they are our own family. Because they are. That’s living in the truth. Living According to the Truth is Heaven.
Speaking of kids.
Here’s why I really want to work on widening our circles. I don’t want us to “save the world.” I just want us to save our families from triviality and provincial thinking and ingratitude and pride and isolation and powerlessness and the illusion of US/THEM. No us/them please- just one big WE. I want us to raise a generation of American kids who live with the awareness that the world is bigger and more beautiful and brutal than the world they can see with their little eyes. I want our kids to understand that they have a HUGE family that spans continents and crosses oceans and inhabits an entire planet. I want them to know that when we say “We Belong To Each Other,” that We doesn’t refer to their nuclear family or classroom or neighborhood or team or religion or political party or nation- it refers to the WHOLE WORLD. Everybody. I want them to know what the term “everybody” looks like, feels like, sounds like, smells like, tastes like.
In other words, I want my kids to feel connected to their global family. But how do people connect? Do they connect to ISSUES, or STATISTICS or PROJECTS? No, I think people connect best to other people, and do that through stories. I do not want to teach my kids about what the word POVERTY means- I just want to introduce them to some kids their age across the world and tell them about the bruty of their daily lives. This is what her school looks like, Tish. Look! This is where the play outside! Her dinner looks different than yours, Tish- doesn’t it? LOOK! She’s missing her front tooth too!
Tish will notice. She will hear the stories and look at the pictures and she will notice what is the same and what it different. And her inherent sense of justice will kick in. And SHE will tell me what needs to be done for her brothers and sisters. And then we will do it. The children will lead us. Because I’ll tell you when people start caring about poverty: when they learn that someone in their family is suffering at its hands. That’s when the fire is lit.
And so maybe if we tell enough stories and draw HUGE circles around our families and children, we’ll raise a generation of children AWARE of their global family. An aware generation of kids is likely to become a generation of adults who ACTS on behalf of their global family. Because family – family sticks together. Simple as that. We do not have to CONVINCE people to take care of each other. We just have to introduce folks to their long, lost family members.
But HOW? I know YOU: my family members HERE. But I don’t know THEM: my family members over THERE. I needed to find someone who knew our international family.
Enter the relief and development organization Church World Service. We began talking six months ago. They love us. They love our work. They know our family abroad. Their goal is the same as ours. TO HAVE A FAMILY REUNION. They are coming alongside us. I could not be more thrilled to be led by these wise, fierce, gentle, humble souls. They are becoming part of our family. Here is our whole plan:
They will tell me stories about our family members abroad.
I will tell them to you in ways that we can share with our kids at the dinner table or at bedtime.
We will widen our circle and the circles of our children.
That’s it. Oh, but wait. That’s actually not it. CWS is also going to contribute to us financially to help this community family begin to sustain itself – 100% received from CWS will be dedicated to this community’s operating costs. I am overjoyed.
The work of CWS is so big and so beautiful that there is no way to share all of it with you in a simple post. So, instead, I am going to answer a few pressing questions now, and then, over the next months, I’m going to share some stories with you. I’ll tell you about a project or a person, a community across the world or a neighborhood close you, that is being reached by the work of CWS. These are such good stories, my friends. Such good, good stories.
But, for today, let’s just start the introduction.
Q. What does Church World Service do?
A. They fight hunger and poverty. In ways large and small, in the United States and in over 30 countries around the world, CWS works to alleviate suffering and empower people to live healthy, whole lives.
Q. How do they do that?
A. Carefully. And with intention.
CWS recognizes that a transformative project in one community might actually cause harm in another, so they tread carefully. They know that one size doesn’t fit all for development work, so they work with individuals and groups to determine the best projects to meet their needs.
By coming alongside people already working, they listen first to find out the most pressing needs, and are then able to work within that community to effect change. By doing this, they are able to provide help that ends hunger and poverty, and promotes peace and justice in a way that lasts.
Q. Why do you trust them?
A. I trust them first of all because they are a highly rated global development organization with a strong reputation for doing good work. And I think that it is important that, while they love and serve in the name of the Church, they do not proselytize or convert. Their purpose is simply to help people who are suffering, and to educate the rest us about how to do that better, without any other motives.
When we asked Hack and Angie, two of our CWS friends, whether they served everybody, all the people, no matter what faith they have, Hack said yes, of course—but not to forget the people who have no faith. They love those people, too. This was a good answer.
You know how when a crisis occurs and we are all shocked and devastated and don’t know what to do? And then we remember the words of Mister Rogers: “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Right now, today, CWS is working in the US South and Mid-West, responding to devastation from recent storms and tornadoes, and coming alongside people as they recover.
Partnering like this is new territory for us, but I know it’s going to be good. Beautiful, even. Church World Service looks the brutal in the face and turns it holy. Just like we do here. We’ve found some amazing helpers.
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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