Everybody thinks empathy is a good thing, right? Most of us face a challenge, though. We think empathy is a good thing. We want to practice it, especially with those who are closest to us, but find ourselves at a loss in those moments when it doesn’t happen spontaneously.
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Wisdom for the Way
A self-cropped mop of curls hung around her face which was as red as anger and hurt can make it. The toe of her one-inch heel was missing a few of the plastic jewels that crusted the surface. When she stamped it onto the long-ago polished wooden floor, her fingers, still a little chubby with babyhood, were fisted, tight.
We will pray daily
This is the opening statement of the Missional Wisdom Foundation's Rule of Life. Since I bumped into the MWF in 2012 (when my husband Luke Lingle began Launch & Lead), I have wondered about that line. As we sat in the community that was formed to explore the Launch & Lead process, we discussed what having a Rule of Life meant, what we should put in a Rule of Life, whether or not the MWF Rule of Life seemed appropriate for our group—we talked about everything about a Rule of Life except how to do it.
God gave us brains, and I am convinced that God intends for us to use them. From one perspective, humanity was blessed with reason to be able to carry God’s task of creation forward. Just as God calls us to be God’s hands and feet in service to others, God calls us to use our reason to co-create solutions and blessings for all those around us. We are more than simply caretakers—we are agents of God’s creative mercy and grace.
One of the great delights of working for the Missional Wisdom Foundation has been discovering the network of amazing people and organizations connected to the foundation. During the National Gathering we sought to connect people with each other based on their gifts. First, we had people write on cards their gifts, skills, and passions. These were placed on a wall so others could see this amazing portrait of our Dispersed Community's assets.
About fifteen years ago, I first heard about sustainable agriculture. Now, I come from a good, composting family. We had reusable shopping bags way before they were cool. But we never used the compost. We just didn’t throw food scraps in the trash. We threw them in the backyard. But in the world of sustainable agriculture, there are ways of doing things. There is tilth to consider. And biome—or was it biomass? And runoff.
Are you ready for a little grammar lesson? In the sentence "I am a lay theologian," there is a subject, I, and a predicate, am a lay theologian. The adjective lay modifies the predicate noun theologian not the subject I. And this feels important enough to risk your eyes glazing over with terrifying flashbacks of diagramming sentences.
In the mountains of Western North Carolina, the grass is growing again, the birds have returned, the carpenter bees are eating a perfect circle in the railing of my front porch. Spring has returned. The nights are soft and clear, and a certain yearning has returned to my heart. I love to wander under the twilight sky, deep into the evening—because, in the twilight, I can inhabit an edge.
Hospitality is not just a kind smile or nice refreshments, though those are certainly important. It’s not glamorous most of the time—like putting enough paper towels in the restroom. More often hospitality is noticed by its lack than its presence. How do we create a space in which people feel they belong to something bigger than themselves and are an integral part of what happens there—that each item is provided for you, individually, as well as for the community?
We made several significant changes to Launch & Lead during our redesign a few years ago. We were particularly excited about the possibilities created by hosting all fall and spring workshops at the same time and place. This meant that everyone participating in Launch & Lead would have the opportunity to meet and connect with everyone else, regardless of where they are in the process.
As we have journeyed through lent together, we have only seen the backs of people’s heads in our images. Their faces have been left unseen by us. They have walked on away from us into the unknown, leaving us to ponder and ask, “Who are they? Where are they going? What are their names? What might it be like to see their face?”
There is something deep in the naming of a child. My husband and I have named five children, and not once did we do so lightly. We scoured baby-name books, made sure the middle names fit phonetically with the first names, screened favorite names for unfortunate meanings, and, even after all that, my hand shook as I wrote each new name down on the blue birth certificate form. After all, our names shape us.