“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dear Springhouse community,
I had two very important encounters this past week and I want to share them with you.
Here is the first encounter. We went on our first All School Trip this past week to Birmingham, Selma, and Montgomery, Alabama. I don’t have words for how powerful this trip was so I am not going to try to describe it. When we returned some of the staff circled up, we didn’t speak, and looked at each other and just said “You had to be there.” It was epic, but something happened there that I do want to share.
We visited The Legacy Museum created by the Equal Justice Initiative along with the National Memorial for Peace and Justice (informally known at the National Lynching Memorial.) For every American, really every global citizen, this is a must see. I have been all over the world and have seen many museums, I have never experienced one like this.
When I was in the museum something happened. I was in a room that was very truthfully and artistically exposing what public officials who were white said during the time of segregation. I was standing reading some of the words someone who was part of the legal system said. Horrific. Demeaning. Vitriolic words. My head couldn’t stop shaking left to right, and I could help make noises of utter disbelief out loud. How could a person be so hateful? There was a Black woman standing next to me, doing the same thing. We turned and looked at each other at one point and started talking. I listened to her share about how the experience was for her at the museum, what it is like to be the mother of Black boys in the US, and her own disbelief at how hateful people can be. She told me too, that it was her birthday that day. We said our goodbyes as she walked away hand in hand with her husband. I took a deep breath in, and started to walk away. For some reason I turned back to take one last look at the words and the photo of the man, and when I did, I noticed his last name. Brady. That’s my maiden name. That’s the name of my family.
Second encounter. Before the trip, I was running some errands in town in preparation. I had just had a great weekend with my Mom and family and was so excited to head to Alabama with my community. As I walked up to our one stoplight in town, I noticed an eldery man in the heat of day campaigning for a 2024 Presidential candidate that I was 100% not in favor of. I wanted to ask him a question, but he was too busy trying to get cars to honk. I went on my way and then got back in my car to go home. As I was leaving the parking lot, I noticed him sitting on some stairs. Something in me knew I needed to get out and talk to him, yet I really did not have time to be doing such a thing. It felt a little strange to park again and get out, but after taking a breath and closing my eyes, that is exactly what I did.
I walked over to him and introduced myself, and he did the same. We exchanged some niceties that included me telling him that I saw him at the stoplight, and I explained that I had wanted to ask him a question. He was amenable, so I asked, “On this hot summer day, all by yourself, what makes you stand out here and campaign for this candidate? Where does your passion come from?” There was a pause, he looked down, and then he began to cry. Then he looked at me and said, “ I am so tired of being ripped off. I think this candidate might be able to help me.”
[I just want to pause and say that I can’t put into words the compassion and love I felt for this man at that moment, but it must be honored here because I know it was grace.]
As Martin Luther King, Jr said, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”
I continued to ask him questions and learned a bit more about him. As I was getting ready to leave, I told him that I truly hoped that he somehow got what he needed. I then said to him that I did not think this candidate, or any candidate, was going to be able to save us for our downward spiral. That is not where I put my faith. Instead I told him that I put my faith in community. I put it in us. He turned his head up and looked at me and said, “I agree.” We agreed, and also in that conversation, we discovered that we live in the same area of the county and shop at the same farm store. We are neighbors.
Love is real. Truth, real deep truth that comes from a human heart, heals. We just need to get closer to each other. Bryan Stevenson, the Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative encourages us to be in proximity of those who are marginalized and oppressed. I agree, and I also say be in proximity to what scares you inside and out (they are likely to be one and the same). To do that we must prepare; mostly on the inside.
Springhouse is a school yes, but school to us is a beloved community. We learn together, we fortify, we practice, and we reflect all in the name of strengthening ourselves to love and be of service in the infinite ways each of us is called. To live with your whole body, your whole heart, your whole soul, is the bravest thing you can do. This takes enormous preparation; the kind of preparation that we just don’t receive. Not in our schools, and often not in our families, as painful as that is. We are living in a culture at large that does not know the gift of life. We have replaced it with many things, but mostly (and honestly) at the heart of it, is money. Money is not the reason we are alive. Love is, and school can be the place, and education can be the way that we remember that.
At the heart of Sourced Design, our design principles that we share globally, is an assumption and a choice. The assumption is that we know that this human life does not last forever, life is a gift, and therefore life is precious. The choice is: Are we going to take care of the vulnerability that comes with living life as though it is precious and a gift, or are we going to consistently not take care of that vulnerability in all of the ways that we have learned how to do that? If this assumption is there, the choice is made to take care of vulnerability, and there is a willingness to participate, the path toward building beloved community and regenerative culture is there.
When we find home within, we don’t consume with such fervor. We are not trying to fill something we can’t fill with food, money, and the list goes on. We become givers and takers, a more natural rhythm. I wrote a whole dissertation on this if you want to explore more of that as it relates to the individual and collective.
We must have the strength and grace to cross lines that aren’t drawn but known, to speak to those who are different from us. We must have the courage to face the history of this country if we are to be free. We must be friends with ourselves if we are to befriend each other and know each other’s triumphs and sufferings. If you are a teen and family who wants this, we have a Day School, join us. If you are an adult, it will be the hardest work of your life, but it’s worth it. We have self discovery opportunities and we have places to learn and practice Sourced Design.
Thank you for reading and I wish you and yours a blessed, restful autumn.
With great respect and devotion for a Love that knows no bounds,
Hi Jenny, I am grateful for your heart-felt and very touching story. What a powerful craft of writing/story telling as well! Such embodied stories will be sought after as we enter the periods of uncertainties.