How small, how insignificant the intentions or the acts of one individual person seem – and how huge, how global, the acts of one individual person can be. We are not often given the gift of knowing the effect of our acts. ~ Pat Schneider
This is a month of celebrations. My daughter Kay and her two children are here for the Thanksgiving holiday. Her husband will join us late today. Her sister and brother and the rest of our family celebrate their presence. They enrich our lives. Laughter abounds.
This morning I’m reading in How the Light Gets In by Pat Schneider. She writes
Everyone wants a better world. If I am educated, it is painful to know that the world has an enormous number of people who have limited or no formal education. If I am fed, it hurts to know there are those who are hungry. If some are denied justice …it hurts to see broken bodies and tormented minds… But other than writing a check as a donation to some invisible charity, most of us don’t know how to make the world better.
Two groups that know how to make the world better, started by one person who had a vision, are celebrating anniversaries. Both organizations allowed me to practice becoming the person I am today.
Little Artshram is celebrating 20 years of service. I have written before about my friend Penny Krebiehl. I lived with her summer-before-last in Traverse City, Michigan working in a permaculture garden and helping out a bit with an outdoor program for kids. I met Penny just about 20 years ago through one of those circuitous ways that can hardly be explained except by the Big Hook in the Sky. That’s another story for another day.
The result – I was looking for studio space – she had studio space over an auto parts store on the other side of the tracks. Putting our great brains together resulted in North Town Art Center where kids came to learn to see – to not shut out, but celebrate what was around them. And celebrate we did and continue to do!
For over twenty years Penny and her stick-to-it-ness shows up in so many ways through the organization she now calls Little ArtShram, Www.littleartshram.org. From her I’ve learned to accept and celebrate “the Gift Economy.” She helps me remember we can’t go it alone; that there is no shame in asking for and accepting help – sometimes crying behind a paper mache mask and changing course, but spreading gardens of joy, and important information and practices along the way.
Oasis Ministries, celebrating 25 years of service: Again the Big Hook in the Sky swooped down and caught me like a fish, www.Oasismin.org. I spent two years in the Spiritual Direction for Spiritual Guides program and then many years on the board of directors. I found friendships and spiritual practices that have served me for almost 20 years.
Kent Groff, founding mentor, while serving as my spiritual director a couple years ago, suggested that, “reversed, a hook becomes a question mark.” This is a continuing theme in my life, as it was when I discovered Oasis just in time. I needed community and contemplative time-out to ask the question and wait for answers. Oasis Ministries is water in a desert, led by some delicious human water bearers.
I’ve been served by and have served many other organizations. On this particular Thanksgiving week, I am grateful for the people who overcame and continue to overcome the shadow that falls between our intention and our act (that) frequently takes the form of an overwhelm of inadequacy so great we stop trying, (Pat Schneider, How the Light Gets In). Amen, and amen.
PAUSING OVER LUNCH
Lunching at Penn State’s
Hershey Medical Center in 1988,
two forties ministers shared
their disappointments and their
dreams—small drops of hope in
One said he hoped
to find a way to join the active
and contemplative life, a way
of living free while loving God.
“How would you find such a way,”
the other asked.
“Oh, it could
never be alone, only in community.”
“And where would you find such
“Ah, most likely
it would not mean finding—rather
founding such a fluid group
as would enrich all communities.”
“And what would you call it?”
“Oasis!” the answer flowed
without a pause. Then, in holy
awe, both paused…
been pausing ever since…
between their words…
—Kent Ira Groff
November 19, 2010