Tag Archives: Welcoming

“From Below, Not Above”

Before we introduce this week’s blog link, we have AMAZING news!  Co-author and co-creator of this here blog, Linda Keys, along with her partner Alan MacFarlane, welcomed their son Findlay into the world on Saturday evening, May 4.  In a text she wrote, “Our beautiful wonderful son Findlay Keys MacFarlane, was born last night, May 4 at 8:21pm at home in water.  Weight 8 lbs, 11 ounces. It was the most perfect home birth I could have ever imagined.  His transition to the outside world was gentle and calm.  Auntie Jenny made it here in time.  We are all incredibly well and happy.”  Congratulations Linda and Alan on the birth of Findlay!! Findlay is blessed to have you as parents!  Now on with the show…

This week we are honored to provide you with a link to a dear friend’s blog, April Doner. Continue reading

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Reconnecting is just as beautiful…

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Friendship Is Just A Ball-Pit Away

My good friend Beth Gallagher hipped me to this video produced by a group called Soul Pancake.  They constructed a ball-pit in the middle of a busy city and put up a sign reading, “Take a seat, Make a friend”, and filmed interactions between people brave enough to participate.  What ensues is beautiful.

For me this video speaks to the simplicity of human interaction.  It speaks to the genesis of any relationship…the invitation.  In this video, the ball-pit acts as the invitation.  Fun, innovative, clever and probably a bit impractical.  However, we can all be fun, innovative and clever.  We all have this invitation inside of us.  We all have the capacity to invite others into our lives.  To ask someone “What’s you story?” Continue reading

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Eventually, All Things Merge Into One…

This week we welcome our inaugural Guest Blogger, Sarah Forbes.  Sarah resides in Melbourne, Australia, works with individuals labeled with disability, and is equally curious about the idea of connection and kinship.  Sit back and enjoy her contribution…

 

“Nothing is more deceitful than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes and indirect boast”, Jane Austen.

I’ve often found myself living across two worlds, two groups, two ways of thinking about life. I grew up in a home where conflict was common and money was scarce, particularly during my adolescence. I also went to a well-performing private school, thanks to my grandfather’s generosity. I became good at covering up our family’s poverty, trying to fit in with well-off and wealthy students, but remaining in an existence between the two. On weekends I tried to fit into our rural community, and on weekdays with my suburban school friends. At the church our family attended, I was the one asking questions of leaders who didn’t welcome questioning. I’m also a person who is adopted, straddling two families where I am both citizen and guest. Many times growing up I felt like I belonged nowhere which grew my motivation for living in ways that might help others feel more included.

Almost five years ago, my husband, new baby girl and I moved into a neighbourhood known for its poor, troubled, unemployed and disrespected people. The location is beautiful and the price was right. Our home perches on the edge of the Yarra River, which runs from the mountains near our home all the way through Melbourne and into the ocean. On a hot day, after rain, the river smells of eucalyptus, native mint and, like home to me. On a very hot day, people from all over the neighbourhood congregate at the river to occupy the best swimming spots, enjoy a beer and a smoke and catch up with new and old friends. People share their food and their belongings, they check up on one another, they know each other’s business enough to enlist the help of others when someone is sick or broke.

Elizabeth, Val and the Yarra River

Elizabeth, Val and the Yarra River

We have friendships with neighbours who have a variety of labels, particularly ‘bludger’, ‘alcoholic’ and ‘bad news’. Our closest neighbour Mark is dying from asbestosis and is known to some by at least two of those labels. He has lived a life of unrequited love and the worst kinds of loss and violence. Many of our friends and family have questioned our friendship with him, simply because they don’t yet see him for what he offers but rather for the trouble he might make for us. Yet he is the person I would call on when I need gardening advice and the person my children know to go to if Mummy falls off the ladder and Daddy isn’t home. He offers counselling, advice, explains to me how social situations work and he looks after our pets when we are away from home. He sometimes takes my washing in because rain is imminent, and he waters my plants if they look droopy. He reassures us that we’re good enough parents. We worry after him, and he worries after us.

tim and mark at valentine's first birthday party, January 2011

There are many others in our neighbourhood who have suffered unrelenting abuse, who use drugs too often, who are often without food in the house because they trade off the grocery budget for prescriptions or beer or petrol for friend in need. My husband Tim remains their preferred confidant, because they see in him a worldliness that they don’t see in me. Despite all my efforts, people who have experienced desperate suffering typically see through my tough exterior to my naivety about what it is like to be the object or perpetrator of human violence, of what it takes to cooperate with child protective services enough to prove that you deeply love your children, and they protect me from their reality by keeping the worst of the truth from me.

It is sometimes hard to see what I have to offer in the midst of people who understand the world in ways so differently to me. The challenge is to see my talents and skills as useful in their context, and to see in others the same. The greater challenge lies in both offering the space for people who experience deep disadvantage to contribute to my life, and for me to take up that space in the lives of people who might welcome me in when my skills seem useful to them – to offer equal exchange. The deep question for us is: How can we be sure that all people are welcomed, even people who are known for violence, people who sell drugs to children in our neighbourhood, people who might steal from us, even people who might mistreat our children given the chance? The answer comes from figuring it out one day at a time, in concert with people who care enough to ask the same question.

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Sacred Space

Lindakirk

Bloggers unite…

We have mentioned the Toronto Summer Institute a few times on here, perhaps partly because it is where Kirk and I first made a connection and this blog was born. It has had a profound impact on our lives; we would both say it sustains our passion, nourishes our commitment to our work and to our community-building, and has been the birthplace of many important friendships.

Peter, Beth, Kirk and Linda

Peter, Beth, Kirk and Linda

The friendships are the piece that I am interested in today. Continue reading

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Neighborhood Cookies…

The baking begins...

The baking begins…

Last year we decided to start a tradition…neighborhood cookies! In an effort to reach out and get to know our neighbors, the holiday season provides an atmosphere conducive to this very thing, we bake and deliver cookies to our neighbors.  In addition, it affords an opportunity to teach a few lessons to our children along the way.

First, the work behind the cookies. The baking, decorating, preparing and packaging. Jody, my beautiful wife, spent the majority of the day mixing, rolling, baking and decorating a variety of cookies, all the while engaging Rhiannon and Kade in the process.

Kade decorating...

Kade decorating…

Appreciating and valuing the preparation and origin of the food we eat has become a focal point in our family, adding another great lesson for us to teach our kids. Near day’s end, the table overflowed with heartfelt goodness.

Staging area...

Staging area…

The loading of plates into our mobile delivery system began!

Loading the delivery wagon...

Loading the delivery wagon…

Baking the cookies, the time spent preparing (a bit of eating) and decorating, all led to the best part of the day…the delivery! Going door to door to give our neighbors these plates of cookies seems like a gift from us to them, but in my eyes, it is a gift to us as people who share a block of space in our community.

Off we go...

Off we go…

The opportunity be with old friends, neighbors we know well, enhances our sense of belonging to one another.

The Beeson's receiving their cookies...

The Beeson’s receiving their cookies…

The opportunity to use this time to meet one or two new neighbors and future friends, brings a sense of hope. RonA hope that this “life time” of neighboring, and practice of welcoming, will help facilitate the abundant community that we seek. The lessons learned and taught by all of us, will hopefully pave a way to a better place to live for our children. One where we stop being too busy to know each other, care for each other and rely on each other. All people who share this place we call our neighborhood. We just need to invite people in…and perhaps, during this season, one plate of cookies at a time!

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Not Your Ordinary Suggestion Box…

Joy’s suggestion box…

I have the pleasure of collaborating with amazing people from all over the world.  We all share the desire to understand our communities in ways that will enrich our lives and the lives of our neighbors.  Today I’d like to introduce you to Joy Boe, someone I don’t travel far to collaborate with.  Continue reading

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