Recently I’ve been rattling off phrases like “The learning is in the doing…” and “The answers are in the questions…” I’m not sure this makes a bit of sense to anyone, myself included, but I’ve been really trying to stop thinking so much about stuff and just simply DO. And so this past Thursday, I found myself driving to the residence of Barbara Workman, a woman I’ve had the pleasure of meeting through my open letter to my church community.
Ever since I wrote the letter, Barbara has been diligent in making sure I knew that she wanted to be a part of moving this idea of connecting forward. She immediately informed me that she didn’t have a way to get around easily, but whatever way she could be of help, she wanted to help. I briefly spoke to Pastor Craig about the handful of people that were emerging as potential connectors, and when I mentioned Barbara, Craig stopped dead in his tracks and said “She’s perfect for this.”
The date was set for our first Connector’s Table meeting, and I reached out to Barbara to make sure she had transportation. She said she’d find her way to the meeting if she could get a ride home. I offered without hesitation. Barbara attended the meeting, along with 14 other people. It was beautiful. It was inspiring. We walked away with a template for the learning conversations (with help from the book I’m currently reading “When People Care Enough To Act” by Mike Green and Henry Moore) we would have with our community at large, but first we needed to have them with each other at the table. Barbara agreed to be partners and made plans to meet at a later date to have our learning conversation.
I think the term, “learning conversation”, is perfect. We truly learned about one another. I learned about her story of how she ended up in San Diego. About how her and her husband decided, while living in Rhode Island, and having trouble finding a place to rent in Newport, that “if we can’t find a decent place, well then, we’ll just move to California!” That type of spirit truly encompasses who Barbara is. What I’ve learned is that she is a woman of great enthusiasm. She loves to stoke a fire in people. Motivating people to do something is something she thrives on. Barbara sat on the Clairemont Town Council years ago (Clairemont is a subdivision of San Diego, little pockets of communities spread across the city make up these subdivisions). She started a garden tour, which was scoffed at originally. In it’s first year, it brought in $750. Now, 12 years later, and Barbara no longer serving on the town council, the garden tour is alive and thriving, pulling in an estimated $8,000. She is a doer!
Barbara is a deep thinker. Barbara is a conversationalist, as evidenced by our 2 hour conversation…which was wonderful, not the poke-my-eye-out 2 hour conversation, but the wow-I-can’t-believe-we’ve-been-talking-for-2 hours conversation. Barbara is engaging, with values such as “I want to live in the moment, give all of myself to what I’m doing.” and “I truly love building a sense of community.” Barbara is a writer, and even started a writing group that still exists at the church now. I didn’t know that!! Oh wow, it is happening!! I’m learning about people, their gifts and associations that exist already!! Truly making the invisible, visible!
As many of you know, Linda Keys (the co-author of this blog and dear friend) and I started this blog as a space for exploring ideas. We share this yearning to understand the need for connection with people. What we both admire, is that it doesn’t matter where in the world you are from, that all people seek this deep connection. What I learned today, is that generationally, it also doesn’t matter. Oh yeah, Barbara is 82. I’m 35. She lives in a Senior Living Community that she picked for herself and moved herself into. Thus, taking the burden of making a tough decision, off of her 3 adult children, whom all live in San Diego. Yet another example of the type of woman she is. Putting others before herself, granted she says “I love it here. Look at my view.
The people here are lovely. This is my community at home. I’m lucky to live here.” Barbara and I come from different times and places, but now we share a community. We share a desire to connect with one another and to get others connected.
In one simple, thought provoking and welcoming conversation, we came to a deeper understanding of who each of us are. Further, we came to a deeper understanding of what each of us can mean to each other and then what we can come to mean, together, to the common good of this community.
All in one learning conversation. It truly is such an amazing tool. So simple, so real, just the giving of time to one another to share. I will always treasure today, and look forward to the conversations ahead with other people in our community (and especially more with Barbara).