Secrets hidden in plain sight: accounts to treasure in the heart

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If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.  Marc Chagall, who created the stained glass window at the Chagall Museum in Nice.

There’s counting and there is counting. There’s bean counting, and there is what counts as “ourstory”.

In an interview with UC Observer, on his book Healing the Heart of Democracy, Parker Palmer has this to say:

I once worked with a group of Episcopal churches in Texas. They were mostly small, rural churches, and collectively they felt like they were dying. Their budgets and membership had fallen off. I listened for a while, and then I said, “You know, it’s interesting to me that the only books you’re keeping have to do with dollars and numbers and members. Can you imagine another kind of book that has to do with the resourcefulness of the people in your congregations, the gifts they have to offer, the needs of the communities they serve in, and how those gifts and those needs might intersect?” I said, “You could actually do an inventory of that.”

There are accounts of measurable items, and there are accounts of wonder. The former are required reading for our “managers” and are lodged in safe places. Jobs, futures and political gain are staked by these measures which are often massaged into a healthy glow. Where is that other kind of book kept, as spoken of by Parker Palmer?

They are kept in the hearts of people. Luke rounds the story of the Annunciation with the beautiful expression, “and Mary treasured these things in her heart” (Luke 2:19). Things treasured in hearts are full of wonder, love and heart-felt story. Such stores are never emptying and never exhausted. They sustain communities and help them to thrive.

The accounts we are asked to keep of pounds, numbers and members are heartless and don’t change a thing. That is book-keeping for managers and survival. There is a different book-keeping and accountancy which takes account of gifts and needs, memories and longings. These are the accounts that are worth having. These are the accounts which give fresh heart to communities and churches. Our leaders need to treasure them in their hearts. They are “secrets hidden in plain sight”.

The problem with effectiveness

We have become obsessed with effectiveness which, according to Parker Palmer, means that we take on smaller tasks. For the bigger tasks, like love, mercy and peace we need a different measure. That measure is faithfulness.

From effectiveness to faithfulness from Center for Courage & Renewal on Vimeo.

Generation chasm

You can tell a culture is in trouble when its elders walk across the street to avoid meeting its youth.

Quoted by Meg Wheatley in Finding our Way and attributed to Malidoma Some from Burkino Fasso and Parker Palmer. Meg Wheatley’s has written a very appreciative and moving essay Maybe you will be the ones: to my sons and their friends.

Spring Learning

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In my own life, as winters turn into spring, I find it not only hard to cope with mud but also hard to credit the small harbingers of larger life to come, hard to hope until the outcome is secure. Spring teaches me to look more carefully for the green stems of possibility; for the intuitive hunch that may turn into a larger insight, for the glance or touch that may thaw a frozen relationship, for the stranger’s act of kindness that makes the world seem hospitable again.

Parker J. PalmerLet Your Life Speak

Holding hands and climbing

Exploring the habits of the heart crucial for sustaining a democracy Parker J Palmer, in Healing the Heart of Democracyhighlights this poem by Hafez, a 13th century Persian poet . The poem is called Out of a Great Need

Out
of a great need
we are holding hands
and climbing.
Not loving is a letting go.
Listen,
the terrain around here
is
far too
dangerous
for
that.

One day we will be open hearted

From today’s reading, Parker Palmer‘s Healing the Heart of Democracy: the Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit . Palmer repeats this Hasidic tale:

A disciple asks the rebbe: “Why does Torah tell us to ‘place these words upon your hearts’? Why does it not tell us to place these holy words in our hearts?”

The rebbe answers: “It is because as we are, our hearts are closed, and we cannot place the holy words in our hearts. So we place them on top of our hearts. And there they stay until, one day, the heart breaks and the words fall in.”

Social capital & a man in a hat

Parker J Palmer (worth following) shared this link from the public square of Sadabell in Spain. Turn the sound up, watch, enjoy.

It made me think ……

Public gathering, public square, ode to joy and delight
brings life to creases in old faces
Hands wring pleasure.
Young hands wielding innocent batons
conduct the mood of the moment
Public gathering background noise
Baby face smiles first music to the ear
Girl scales lamppost entranced
public square
ode to joy. Heaven.