Wind in our sails

Allan David Smith-Reeve, September 10th, 2018 (Location: Three Brothers Falls)

I believe in you.

Four powerful words. And when they are backed up with tangible expressions of love (such as a donation) the sentiment becomes fuel.

I sit by the river early morning. I let my thoughts swim in the ever-flowing current. At times the water falling over the granite shelf has represented the eternal flow of suffering, the eternal flow of change, or the eternal flow of mystery.

Today the current represents cash flow.

I sent my “Down but not Out” piece to a friend who had sent the project $1,000 back at the end of August. This friend is someone who I worked with all through the nineties in Toronto – fighting poverty with social enterprises.

He responded to that blog in two ways. He told us that he’d cover two months of our salaries this fall. And he told me to send the blog out far and wide – but to add an invitation to give at the end.  So I did.

Another colleague from Toronto days was the first to respond. She put $25 in our Go Fund Me “pat on the back” pot which supports our under-resourced leaders with a weekly honourarium.

Others chose to send cheques to Greenwood United in order to receive tax receipts. (see our donations page on the website)

It was like the taps were turned on. It was like a rain after a drought. It was like wind in our sails after a long doldrum. We don’t have all we need yet but it feels like we have momentum.

It’s a powerful feeling.

To believe in one’s self is so important if you’re going to take on a slippery-sloped fight like poverty. You must expect setbacks, disappointments, and failures.

But to have others say “I believe in you.” is also essential. I can’t overstate how important.    

It was the fall of 2010. I was about to move back to Peterborough after almost 30 years since I’d left with an arts degree in literature and political philosophy. I was living in a camper in the woods by this river. No hydro, no well. I’d lost my family, my home, and my job. A nephew of a friend had offered me a room in his house for the winter. I was not a happy camper.

I felt that god was calling me back into an urban community ministry but I had no idea what it might look like. The call to adventure stirred in my heart but I was scared and feeling very much alone.

My good friend Lynn Smith sent me a link to a youtube song. I played it over and over and over as I packed things up.

Daniel Lanois’s simple haunting melody played with one finger on a piano. Trixie Whitley’s deeply passion-toned lyric. Backed up with Daryl Johnson’s heartbeat bass and a stirring Brian Blade jazz drum-kit.

“I believe in you.” she sings over and over and over.  

“I believe in you” became “our song” sung three years later at our wedding in the labyrinth we’d made here at the river. Daughter Hollee sang it backed up by Bazza on a djembe. My heart burst open and tears flowed like a river. 

Those four words are at the heart of the Bridging Teams project.

It’s one thing to have faith in your own abilities. It’s another thing to have faith that your Maker is with you no matter what.

But without a chorus of people to say “I believe in you.” over and over and over again – how can we keep swimming against a current of setbacks, disappointments, and failures?

Gathering weekly with a group of elders who by their very presence say, “I believe in you.” to the five people at the heart of the circle – is a powerful experience every time.

Having a wider circle of people – in Toronto, Orillia, Kingston, Victoria, Newfoundland, and right down the street in Peterborough – send that message – it’s a chorus of angel messengers singing “We believe in you. You are not alone.”

Isn’t this why we congregate? Isn’t this why my faith alone is not enough? Isn’t this why we need to find others to walk alongside us? Isn’t this why being alone saps our health and strength and souls?

Your faith is wind in our sails. Keep singing sisters and brothers!

Just Beyond Yourself: A Poem

by David Whyte (@whytedw)

Just beyond

It’s where
you need
to be.

Half a step into self-forgetting
and the rest restored
by what
you’ll meet.

There is a road
always beckoning.

When you see
the two sides of it
closing together
at that far horizon
and deep in the foundations
of your own heart
at exactly the same time,
that’s how
you know
it’s the road
you have to follow.

That’s how
you know
it’s where you have to go.

That’s how
you know
you have
to go.

how you know.

Just beyond
it’s where you
need to be.

This poem is from David Whyte’s collection of poetry, The Bell and the Blackbird.