Saturday, March 20, 2010

Unexpected similarities

At the beginning of each year I have at least 2 or 3 calendars I want to put somewhere. This year, 1 calendar had skiing pictures of Lori and me, so that went right on my desk at work. The second calendar had gorgeous photos from Kenyon College, where I went to college, so that went on a wall at work. The third calendar I got at church and is unique in that, instead of being simply a religious calendar, it emphasizes various service work done by people in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. I put this calendar up on the wall and wondered if I would get in trouble, since it is religious.

What has happened is not what I expected at all. I tend to assume people are not religious or don't go to church. But the calendar has been a conversation starter. One woman on my team saw it and we talked about what her church, some offshoot of the ELCA, does for service - that seems to be their emphasis. Then I discovered another person goes to a big ELCA church, and we discussed how/why she and I have switched to the ELCA. Others look at it and are intrigued. So I have discovered that so many more people than I thought are religious, and more people than I thought go to church and it's a big, though mostly unspoken, part of their life. That also is interesting - it's unspoken, yet so important.

Another different similarity, somewhat unexpected, lies in the diverse interest in community service work, and the bonding power such work has. This needs an explanation! This week we kicked off our company's 2010 disability association with our first meeting (yes, it's March - it being this late to start speaks to the economy, really). Last year we started working with other multi-cultural associations the company has - our Veterans association and our GLBT association. I wanted to attempt a new community service "activity" this year which is a bit outside of what our association usually does. Surprisingly, adding this to our agenda seemed to attract a few new people to our meeting to learn more. Also surprising - people said let's not do this alone. Let's work with the Vet and GLBT associations, because they would love to be involved in this. And maybe that will bring other associations with it. Following the meeting, new people were gathering useful statistics and reaching out to other people they knew. So by finding similarities through new potential outreach, we find new energy, and can accomplish so much more.

It's great to see this happening. Things have been working in such silos lately. That isn't the most effective. As we break some of these small silos and learn to work together more, maybe someone will take notice and larger silos will break. We'll all learn what seems so obvious. Harry Belafonte has said it so well: "All of us are here for a very, very short time. In that time that we're here, there really isn't any difference in any of us, if we take time out to understand each other. The question is, do I know who you are? Do you know who I am? Do we care about each other? 'Cause if we do, together we can, turn the world around."

You have to love what he did with the Muppets ( I think he's right. Let's turn the world around, silo by silo.

Thanks be to God.

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