We become what we do - in community (Andy Pakula)
We become what we do.
I hope you’ve now heard that phrase many times. It is, after all, what we do that shapes who we become.
We have talked about personal practice and how we can choose to act in ways that will tend to make us more compassionate, more mindful, kinder, braver, or more playful.
Although we have talked about becoming what we do as individuals, the same is true for our community.
Consider a community that practices gratitude - it becomes a place where people appreciate what is best about one another.
Consider a community that practices honesty. It becomes a place of deep trust.
Consider a community that practices respect and acceptance. It becomes a place where everyone can feel safe and free.
Consider a community where individuals practice responsibility and generosity. It becomes a place where work is shared and everyone is an owner rather than a customer.
And, of course, there is an opposite to each of these. What becomes of a community that encourages dishonesty or one where criticism is promoted over gratitude?
What happens to a community that means toward judgmental and exclusive action over acceptance?
What happens to a community where people see themselves as consumers, prepared to criticize but not to contribute.
We become what we do.
Mind the gaps (Stacy Makishi)
Hi I’m Stacy Makishi. I come from Honolulu Hawaii.
I came to London to avoid the sunshine...and most of the time, London’s weather is perfect for me, but the price I pay is that I miss my mom terribly.
She misses me too. And she watches every British movie she can find. She once heard someone say in a movie: “Mind the Gap”, and asked me what it meant. I told her that it was a warning to passengers to mind the gap between the train and the platform.
She said, “Oh, I could use a hat that says ‘Mind the Gap’, -- to warn people about the GAP between my ears whenever I have my senior moments!”
She cracks me up and I need a dose of her every day. I often talk to her about Unity and about my fondness for this community.
So last year, my mom was so inspired, that she decided to go to church too. But on her first visit, she was so disappointed by the unfriendliness and lack of warmth, that said she would never go back.
But she did go back and things didn’t change.
She said: ‘You know Stacy, this place is a church, but no mo’ warmth, no compassion, no fun, no ALOHA.
She complained about this for about half a year. She didn’t like the church, there were a lot of problems… but she felt that there was something there for her and decided to pray about it.
And as she prayed, she began to rant. She was on the rampage about the gaps she identified in the community, mostly, the lack of Aloha…. And suddenly the words: Mind the Gap – filled her mind!
She thought, ‘I can do that! I can mind the gap! I can be the gap that I see. I can be friendly, I can be warm. I can be fun. I will be the Dept of Aloha’.
My mom has become The Dept of Aloha and not just at church. She’s the Dept of Aloha on the bus, at the supermarket, in elevators, where ever she goes. And as a result, she has quit complaining and has come alive with Aloha.
I wonder if what happened to my mom can offer us some wisdom. If you notice a gap or lack in our church, perhaps it has come to your attention, in order for you to mind. Perhaps, that is a gap that you can fill. Perhaps it can offer you a chance to come alive with aloha as you ‘Mind the Gap’.
Filling the gaps (Andy Pakula)
Of the many kinds of action and work we can undertake, there are many that leave us feeling uninspired and even burdened.
And then there is that action, that work, that way of doing that makes us come alive.
This is sometimes called vocation and theologian Frederick Buechner famously described this as the place "where your passion meets the world’s greatest need.”
It need not be the whole world. Stacy's mother matched her passion to a need and the result was transformative for both her and a community.
We become what we do. We become what we do together.
May it be so.