Jordan and I were deeply encouraged by the first gathering. We worked very hard to attend to as many details as possible to create a structure where kindness could easily flow. Much to our delight we discovered that the amount of love and connection that people shared was prolific! Here is what happened.
Jim and his partner Christina, who do green cleaning, kindly showed up early as they promised to do in order to help with set up. That was the beginning of all the miracles, because without them there was no way I could have gotten things ready on time. Jim made garage sale-like signs to put out on the roads to direct people to the event. The signs said simply, “Kindness” and pointed people towards Ann’s home. Later after the more structured part was over a neighbor stopped by to see what was going on. Now there is a possibility of getting more neighbors involved which has been our vision.
Jordan offered to pick up Gaya who is a blind woman. Jordan didn’t feel comfortable guiding Gaya to his car, so Ralph Nesson was willing to come along with Jordan so he could be the guide. This also was a miracle, because we really want all kinds of differently abled people to come with people who need rides getting help in that way. I had met Gaya while I was cleaning at Ann’s house, and she was instantly drawn to the idea of the Kindness Alliance and wanted to come to the gathering. When I told her Jordan’s story, she also felt immediately connected to Jordan. Miraculously enough, they found out that they had met each other the day before at the Center for Exercise. I enjoyed connecting these two wonderful people and a loving friendship has been born among many that night.
We were able to start soon after 6:30, and it was thrilling as the guests arrived. I felt deeply touched by each person who attended–most because of Jordan’s heartfelt invitation. People like Rolf, the owner of Eureka Pizza and his wife who are Jordan’s neighbors who have been touched by Jordan’s transformation felt inspired to come and see what we were about. Was it a miracle of sorts that Rolf brought 3 Eureka pizzas and so did Gaya. And they were the exact same pizzas!
We started with a brief introduction of the purpose of the gathering and the Kindness Alliance. Jordan included in his sharing about how he might cry at any time and hoped that no one would be uncomfortable. He cried as he shared–tears of joy.
By needing to share about what we were about, it continued to help us to discover what we are doing on this journey. The kindness alliance has quickly found ways to fulfill our mission to encourage a proliferation of kind acts, words and deeds–and the Community Gathering is just one such way. We discovered that the structure of the community gathering did just that, and we know that the impact of what happened will ripple outward in many ways with the connections that were made. I know that my life has been changed because of each person attending who enriched my life and I am so looking forward to finding ways to cooperate with each one of them.
After the intro and a simple welcoming song, we shifted gears and got some food. I figured that for the next stage where each person would briefly share something that they thought was important for others to know about, if people were eating we could be more relaxed. It was important for Jordan and I to have a way where people could quickly get to know each other resulting in a larger number of connections.
I explained why I was going to time each person so that we could make sure that we stayed within a time frame so that all the activities we planned could take place. Unfortunately the one thing I did not prioritize was to figure out how the timer works, and so I struggled a bit with that aspect. But people were patient and it was good to hear from everyone. I even learned new things about people who I had known for a while. It was as if walls were slowly being dissolved as we shared and found out how much we had in common. Each person shared about 45 seconds to a minute.
One more break for seconds gave people a chance to move around and then re re-convened. One neat thing was I brought raw okra from my garden. Many people had never tried raw okra, and discovered that they liked it. I felt very happy about that since I know the value of raw foods–and okra is very easy to munch on.
When our circle resumed, I explained that we were going to now break into smaller groups of 4 people. Each person had seven minutes of what I called “sacred space” in which to share whatever they wanted to share. It could be telling about needs they had and asking people to brainstorm how to meet those needs–like getting work. Or it could be sharing their vision for their life. Or sharing their life story. Or sharing a problem and have people listen. Or having a discussion about a topic dear to their hearts. The purpose was to just help people to connect, cooperate, and further deepen relationships in smaller more intimate groups. We requested that members of couples go into different groups so that they could expand their circle of friends.
I loved my group comprised of an 85 year old lady and two men in their thirties and myself. Each of use were very unique, yet just the fact that we came to such a gathering meant that we had a positive intention. I felt so happy to see that everyone really listened and respected each other. Hearts were opened, and the energy in the house was so dynamic and happily vibrant.
I hadn’t really kept track of the over all time, but miraculously everyone got their 7 minutes and then it was 8:30. Some people had to leave, but those who could stay got together in our wonderful circle yet again and shared briefly what they got out of the evening. We closed with me teaching the chorus to one of my favorite songs,
“Come along, you belong
Come along like a song,
and when you come along, we are strong.
And we need you to come…like the earth needs the sun,
Come along, you belong, we are one.
As a handful of us helped clean up, still continued our conversations and connections. I am hopeful that I have met some people who are going to be good friends–some of them might even be potential residents of our forming Wellspring Community. I have more hope than ever that this life-long vision of a residential community will come true.
Ann Shaw, who graciously let us use her home, and I were the last to be present. I had many details to attend to to put her house back in order which I had rearranged quite a bit. Jim offered to come back and help–he and Christina were going to help Jordan escort Gaya to her house since Ralph had to leave early. Someone else graciously offered to take Ralph home since he came with Jordan. Do you see how all the miracles just flowed together? I told Jim that I could finish up, and I was happy to putter about, basking in the love that was left by all the people who attended. Ann and I got to talk about the evening–always a fun thing to share with another when a great event has happened. She helped me put everything back in place. We left here with a few meals in her refrigerator from the left overs which was a modest way of saying thanks for providing the space.
We decided to hold a gathering at her place on the first and third Wednesdays of each month. There is also talk of having a book study of the Presence Process which has helped Jordan immensely in his recovery. Ann’s two old cats recently died within a few weeks of each other. Having people around and her helping plan this event has really helped her to focus on the positive. Having an event in her house which was in quite a bit of disarray after she had an accident in the winter was a true miracle.
We are now in communication with Unity of Fayetteville Chruch and the Whole Earth Organic Lounge and hoping to hold kindness alliance community gatherings there in the near future.
And we hope to see you there!