Rising from the ashes
Dear friends and supporters,
I've been planning to write a letter to all of you for a week or so now. It is meant to be (and is) a request for your ongoing support of Still Harbor and our work.
I am, however, feeling called to a moment of reflection on how I personally found my way to this work. I share this little piece of me in gratitude for all you have shared with us. I hope that my words here inspire and move you to deeper understanding of the importance of Still Harbor's service in the world today.
Driving home on the night that the news of Mandela's death was spreading like wildfire across all global media outlets, I found myself thinking about the day my friends and I came together on the Esplanade in June 1990 when Mandela visited Boston.
Having just finished high school in a city with its own deep rooted and viscerally felt social issues around race and class, Mandela's visit to Boston seemed to indicate to me that the world was changing. While structural forces at that time still seemed hell bent on preventing any kind of liberation, that gathering on the Esplanade may very well have been "the" moment when I realized that we human beings can indeed rise from ashes.
The world at that time was bombarding us with regular news of the profound human struggle for liberation. As I sat on the Esplanade with people from every walk of life and ever corner of the city, I considered the fall of the Berlin Wall, seven months earlier. I thought of the gruesome murder of the Jesuits and their housekeepers in El Salvador who had been fighting so hard for freedom, also seven months earlier. And I wondered what my path would be in this collective human experience of suffering and struggle for liberation.
In reflecting on that moment in my life, a comment I read from Archbishop Desmond Tutu stood out to me. Tutu said, "Suffering can do one of two things to a person. It can make you bitter and hard and really resentful of things. Or as it seems to do with very many people--it is like fires of adversity that toughen someone. They make you strong but paradoxically also they make you compassionate, and gentle." (Read more from Tutu at pbs.org)
In that moment of my youth, I recognized the importance of opening myself up to be transformed from within by my suffering and also by the suffering of others. I needed to drop my idea of what should be to make way for what is. With my eyes open to what was real around me, I could see the way forward more clearly.
Tutu, in that same interview, also referenced Jesus, who preached so long ago that it is in losing your life that you find it. As I have navigated my career accompanying both those who are suffering and those who are trying to end the suffering in the world, I recognize the truth in this teaching more than ever. Sometimes we have to die to ourselves so that we may rise. My faith that we can rise from the ashes and my awareness that suffering can be our teacher if we let it are stronger than ever today.
Still Harbor was born and is sustained on this idea. We decided that we need to offer people support as they build up their inner spiritual resources in order to rise and in order to allow suffering to teach. We want to do everything we can to ensure that the generation of activists, helpers, advocates, leaders, and changemakers serving the world today do not end up bitter, hard, and resentful. We want to accompany them in becoming passionately compassionate, radically loving, and daringly strong.
This is the vision and service your gift supports. Whether in one-on-one spiritual direction or in group training sessions, our desire to witness suffering and engage in the struggle for liberation with all those seeking and serving remains core to who we are.
While we may not all be the next Mandela or Tutu, we all have the opportunity to engage in the very human struggle for liberation by being open and receptive to the lessons that come from suffering in the world. From this place of witness, we will be inspired and moved to act in ways that only the future holds.
Please support our work today by giving a gift. Every single dollar goes a long way to allowing us to accompany people regardless of their ability to pay. I thank you for all that you do to help us serve.
From my service to yours,
P.S. If you cannot give a financial contribution this year, help us spread the word about Still Harbor by liking us on Facebook.
P.P.S. If you are considering giving big this year, read more about our new Anchor Society here.