We Pray

God of Mercy, God of Grace, God of Love

I pray for Your peace, Your justice and Your healing everywhere around the world. We can’t turn on the news without hearing of people killing, hurting, mistreating or oppressing others.

I know You are not pleased with this and my heart breaks for this world.

I call on all true believers to pray!

Pray for God’s Peace!

Peace even in the midst of all the chaos in this world.

No more weapons (biological, physical or mental) turned on people.

Peace that yields a fervent and consistent truce among all peoples everywhere.

Pray for God’s Justice!

That all wrong will be made right!

That people will not have to live in fear and confusion!

That people, all people, can and do contribute and receive as they are blessed.

Pray for God’s Healing!

That all will be made anew in God’s image.

That all will find and walk into their God purpose.

That people will be helpful, kind and loving to one another.

God of Mercy, God of Grace, God of Love

My heart breaks every time I hear of yet another family or people group being ripped apart. How have we gotten to such a state? How can we turn things around?

For me, turning things around begins with Visible Unity, my nonprofit that is “Bringing People Together Through Reconciliation To Unity.”

Check out our website and come join us!

Blessings

Another Random Act of Interaction

My most recent Random Act of Interaction came a few weeks ago, somewhat by accident. At the Retirement Dinner for a dear friend from high school, I sat with members of his family. Kita sat next to me, and everyone at the table joined in a conversation about parenting and grand-parenting. I expressed a couple of thoughts based on my complete lack of inexperience in either department. Somehow, I mentioned that I had gone through a relationship difficulty many years ago. Kita noticed the comment, and asked me to talk a bit more about my experience. As we talked, I learned that she had a similar, but more recent experience. A spark went off in my heart. As much pain as I went through so many years ago, I could see a way to express to her the things that helped me cope, and the joy I now feel, having emerged on the other side. She also helped me to see the strength she has, knowing who she is and wanting to be true to herself. It was a wonderful, bonding experience that only happened because Kita was willing to step a little outside her comfort zone and engage with someone that, on the surface, seemed to have very little in common with her. Thank you, Kita. And thank you, Visible Unity, for giving us a place to record these experiences. Take the challenge, and then record your experience on social media, or http://www.visibleunityinc.org, with hashtags #RandomActsofInteraction and #ComfortZoneSucks so others will be inspired by your story.

Random Acts of Interaction

Image may contain: one or more people, eyeglasses and closeup

My most recent Random Act of Interaction came a few weeks ago, somewhat by accident. At the Retirement Dinner for a dear friend from high school, I sat with members of his family. Kita sat next to me, and everyone at the table joined in a conversation about parenting and grand-parenting. I expressed a couple of thoughts based on my complete lack of inexperience in either department. Somehow, I mentioned that I had gone through a relationship difficulty many years ago. Kita noticed the comment, and asked me to talk a bit more about my experience. As we talked, I learned that she had a similar, but more recent experience. A spark went off in my heart. As much pain as I went through so many years ago, I could see a way to express to her the things that helped me cope, and the joy I now feel, having emerged on the other side. She also helped me to see the strength she has, knowing who she is and wanting to be true to herself. It was a wonderful, bonding experience that only happened because Kita was willing to step a little outside her comfort zone and engage with someone that, on the surface, seemed to have very little in common with her. Thank you, Kita. And thank you, Visible Unity, for giving us a place to record these experiences. Take the challenge, and then record your experience on social media, or http://www.visibleunityinc.org, with hashtags #RandomActsofInteraction and #ComfortZoneSucks so others will be inspired by your story.

 

Random Acts of Interaction!

#RandomActsofInteraction
I just returned from a conference hosted by the Ponca tribe that was focused on Environmental Justice. I was hesitant about going because I have always had mixed feelings about Native Americans. However, I truly believe that if all people of color can come together and build relationships, then we can each support one another in our fights. The bottom line is we are all fighting the same thing – oppression, discrimination and corruption.

So, I came out of my comfort zone and went to the conference. I engaged in conversations and fully participated in the conference and now I have a better understanding of where Native Americans are coming from and I’m even more ready and willing to build relationships with them. Out of about 200 attendees, there were 7 Black people present, probably a dozen or so white people, maybe about the same number of Hispanic/Latino people and the rest were Native American. I hope that I was also able to encourage some of them about the importance of building relationships with other people of color. I even put it out there that for those interested, they could call upon me for assistance.

Sometimes it pays to stretch out of your comfort zone. 

#ComfortZoneSucks @VisibleUnity
I challenge you!

Random Acts of Interaction Challenge! I did it!

Random Acts of Interaction is a challenge that forces one out of their comfort zone to interact with a person one normally would avoid. Below is a readout of my interaction. Now, I challenge you.

I attended Girls Night Out, a monthly get together of about 20 women of diverse backgrounds and ethnicities. My dear friend Sylvia organizes the monthly gatherings and although I am not always able to attend, I love the idea of women getting together to do fun things. No husbands, no children, no work, just pure female fun!

When I arrived at the restaurant all the middle seats (where you can dally in the most conversations) were taken so I took a seat at the end and sat across from a lady who had a very heavy accent. Let me be honest…I do not like to speak with people with heavy accents. For me, it is hard work and exhausting. I have to slow my thinking, stall my assumptions, keep my focus on the speaker, and avoid distractions all while trying to decipher words. As I said, exhausting! It doesn’t take long for me to reach listener fatigue. So I started looking around to see where else I could sit but there were no other seats.

I had previously spoken with Pam and Cindy with Visible Unity about Random Acts of Interaction, a program that forces one to get out of their comfort zone and engage people we normally would avoid. For me – people with heavy accents.

So since I was stuck, I decided to challenge myself to converse with Esther, the lady with the heavy accent. Guess what? It turned out to be a robust, personal, and fun conversation. I learned she was fasting which was something I had been thinking and learning about. She freely shared her fasting experiences and offered some tips. In addition, I learned we both attend small group home bible studies and she actually hosts her group in her home. Finally, we talked about our professions and I jealously learned she had retired after serving for so many years as an educator and principal. It was an amazing time of fellowship and I was so glad she wanted to take a selfie with me at the end of dinner.

As I was driving home that evening, I thought about how I would have missed out on the opportunity to get to know Esther if I had ignored her and stayed in my comfort zone or found another seat. Had I not been willing to intentionally interact, I would have missed a most delightful time of sharing.

Thank you Visible Unity for challenging us to interact with people we normally avoid. My life is richer for the exchange. #randomactsofinteraction#comfortzonesucks.

Random Acts of Interaction Challenge

Our first post and picture of Visible Unity’s RAoI challenge.

Cindy Ford

In working with Visible Unity’s founder, Pam Fields, I have learned that my life is not as diverse as I perceive it to be. It is also not as diverse as I would like it to be. I think we all tend to gravitate to encounters and situations that will keep us in our comfort zone, and therefore in a place where we interact with those that most resemble ourselves.

If you have ever had the “pleasure” of spending time in the Central Jury room of the George Allen Courts Building, you know it is very large and most times very full of a diverse group of people. Normally, I select a place where I can sit by myself, with ample space on either side of me. Even then, there is always the risk that someone will sit down beside me, but I would rather just do my “duty” in my own space, with minimal distractions.

A few months ago, I showed up for jury duty and the place was packed with people. Getting a seat with some amount of personal space would be next to impossible. It was time for Plan B; pick a seatmate. It would have been easy and comfortable to sit next to a group of women that were near my age, and the same skin color as me. But Pam entered my head. What if I pick the seat next to someone different? Different generation; different skin color; different gender? What if I not only did that, but stepped past them, as they sat on the end of that row, and then sat right next to them?

So that is what I did. I asked this gentleman if I could step past him to take the seat right next to him. We did not have a deep, meaningful conversation. After all, it was jury duty. But I did learn something about him. This was the first time he had ever received a jury summons. He has a school-age daughter. He took the bus to get to jury duty, which likely meant he had to get up way earlier than me to make the trip and be there early enough to get that good end seat. Also, he was just as exasperated (and relieved) as me, when more than an hour after they selected a handful of jurors to head up to one of the courts, they announced that the rest of us were not needed, and we were released.

In retrospect, I truly wish I had formally introduced myself, and asked for his name. But I did learn that even if you do not know someone’s name, you can still get to know a little about them from a short, casual conversation. I also learned that most people, if approached in a friendly manner, will share a part of their story and enrich you. I hope he found this Random Act of Interaction enjoyable as well.

Thanks and keep them coming!

#randomactsofinteraction #comfortzonesucks

Othering & Belonging Conference

On April 8-10, I attended the Othering & Belonging Conference in Oakland, CA. It was so great to be in the midst of like-minded people. I have added new activities, new vocabulary, new books and a renewed excitement for this work. One term that I want to share right now is Belonging. They use the term belonging rather than inclusion. Inclusion still has hierarchy attached to it. We, people of color, are being included in the majority work. However, Belonging is where all people come together and co-create their community/society. Thus, the opposite of ‘othering’ is belonging. Othering splits people into groups (breaking) but belonging allows for all and welcomes all (bridging).

This has been the work of Visible Unity from the beginning. We seek to bring diverse people together and help them to develop relationships across cultures. In the words of Othering & Belonging, we have been building a bigger ‘we’.

At the conference a poem by Warsan Shire was recited by a young person.

Home by Warsan Shire

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well

your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilet
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
pitied

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

the
go home blacks
refugees
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
savage
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
drown
save
be hunger
beg
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
saying-
leave,
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here

 

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