Upon landing in Indianapolis on Sunday October 21st, the incredible week of welcome, invitation, hospitality, learning, conversation, openness and storytelling began. Greeted by old friends, Caitlin and April, along with new friends Amara and Anna, the journey began with bright eyes and open hearts. Soon after procuring our rented mini-van, our mobile home away from home for the week, we drove off to visit one of our hosts. Anne, along with her husband Chuck and dogs Vino and Nicky, welcomed us as family into her home. Homemade chili adorned the stove and permeated the air with it’s delicious aroma.
We sat, ate, relaxed and conversed about our upcoming week. A week of learning, searching for meaning and connection. Looking for clarity, questions and yearning to hear stories from real people, living real lives in communities other than ours. From Sarasota & Bradenton Florida, Atlanta Georgia and San Diego, California, we all converged upon Indianapolis to harvest stories in hopes of filling ourselves to capacity, only to empty ourselves back into our homes and communities in our respective places. Having met most of my fellow travelers at the Toronto Summer Institute over the past 3 years, the power of human connection appears to have no limits. We can, and will continue to, learn from each other.
I have more to share than this post can hold regarding this trip. Look for more in the coming weeks. I’ll start with a lesson I learned in between our formal itinerary. True hospitality and invitation abounded throughout the week. Starting with our hosts in Indianapolis: Chuck & Anne, The Harges family the Mather family (along with Broadway United Methodist Church), Starfire Council in Cincinnati, Tim & Bridgette Vogt, Rex Lai and The Arc of Midland, Michigan. These families, friends and neighbors welcomed the five of us into their homes for the week, engaging in the practice of hospitality in it’s purest form. In fact, everywhere we went throughout the week, we received warm welcomes.
With a slew of hosts stretching into Cincinnati, Ohio, Bellevue, Kentucky and Midland, Michigan, the common theme is that of hospitality. Sure the stories and people we were here to meet in these different communities drove us, literally via mini-van, all over. Perhaps the most significant lesson, however, resides in the functioning of the trip itself. Everywhere we went, no matter the state or city, we were welcomed into homes, places of business and parks with a sense of love. Seriously…love! Love is a word and feeling that I don’t use or acknowledge enough when I think about this practice of hospitality. Love was abundant. Love was ubiquitous. Love lifted us up all week.
As stated, I have plenty more to share, but today I want to share my gratitude. During our workshop, facilitated by Anne Mitchell and De’Amon Harges, an invitation to start a gratitude journal came about. Here is the idea behind this: all too often we refer to places that have a “culture”, but how is that “culture” cultivated? Through practice. If we truly want to change, suspend things in our daily living and interacting such as judgement, cynicism and fear, then it is paramount to develop a practice of gratitude. The process is simple and doesn’t require much writing. At the end of each day, for 90 days, write down 3 things you are grateful for that day. My intention is to start this immediately. I invite you to begin a gratitude journal as well.
So many lessons…so little blog space. I am grateful to have created a space for sharing my thoughts on this blog with an amazing co-author, Linda Keys. I am grateful for all of our hosts on this trip. I am grateful for the friends who joined on this journey and our deepening connections. I am grateful for friends and colleagues from all over who supported this journey. I am grateful to my church family for supporting this trip. I am most grateful for my wife, Jody, and my children Rhiannon, Kade and Eliot for always supporting these adventures.
Let’s share our gratitude with each other. Let’s be open, affirming and welcoming with each other…and let us be the sustainable change we want to see in our lives as neighbors, families and friends.