I’m launching a new venture – a non-profit that will work in the general space of recovery and re-entry of the ex-offender. This stems from a passion I’ve had for awhile, fueled by an experience I had in late 2010 while I was unemployed. The Mayor’s Office for Re-Entry sponsored a workshop for ex-offenders, planting the idea/seed to consider starting a small business as an alternative to facing barriers to employment. Fast forward, and the timing seems to be unfolding to pursue this dream – the Candlestick House and Engagement Center (www.candlestickhouse.org).
I was recently having dinner with a friend who is helping me with some concepts we’d like to use with CHEC. She asked me a question: so why do you want to do this?
Ok. Anne, I’m pausing because I don’t want to just rattle off “the right answer” (whatever that really means right?) or the first thing that comes to mind. We talked more that evening…and since then, that question has percolating in my mind. And, I’ve come to understand why (well one of the reasons why…)
To learn how to live in community.
That resonates deeply with me.
It connects with two stories from my time at Broadway UMC, and how my Higher Power has revealed things to me that I needed to learn or understand. One comes from a sermon that Rachel gave during a Lenten season. At the time, I was in recovery, but still living at my house in Greenfield – and unemployed. I knew I would be moving to Indianapolis once the house sold, but that was about all I knew. Her question for us was “What are you taking on for Lent?” Yes, taking on for Lent – not giving up, which is the traditional approach we often take. From what I recall, it was challenge to take on a new practise, a new dimension to our spiritual life, a new perspective. As I pondered the question – in the context of my growing up as an Exxon brat and then my 7 moves during my 19 year career at Lilly – the answer came to me… I would take on Living in Community.
So as I made my selection for where to live in Indianapolis, I deliberately chose Mapleton Fall Creek neighborhood, the area around my home church. And I’ve committed that barring some unforeseen circumstance, I will remain in MFC – making this home. Remember – the longest I had ever lived in one place (neighborhood or community) since elementary school was my 4 years at college. So, at the age of 42 years old, that’s a pretty significant shift.
Now since then, I’ve made small strides – but probably nothing as deliberate or intentional as I’d like. But nonetheless, it’s progress, not perfection – and it has born fruit for me to stay in one place.
Which leads me to the second connection or story with Broadway UMC. In our recent three year planning process at church, we talked about “living out our mission with greater intention.” We didn’t redo our strategy or mission – we felt that the one people came up with 40 years ago is still our calling: “to be a multicultural Christian community, that in its ministry seeks, welcomes and values all people.” We’ve chosen simply how to live that out more deliberately – with greater intention. And entering into Year Two, I can personally see the fruits of our approach. For that I’m grateful and humbled.
And as I reflect on my personal decisions to take on “Living in Community” – on staying in Mapleton Fall Creek – and now to start this venture of bringing the Candlestick House and Engagement Center to life, it has been VERY significant to me that the property we are looking at is in MFC. I believe in signs or affirmations – and this was one of many that has pointed me to this venture, in this time, in this place. CHEC will be a part of the community in which I live. That was pretty awesome and important to me.
And, then as I think about my Lenten pledge and my sense that I haven’t done as much as I might have hoped or liked…I realized that this venture isn’t just for the women who might live in the house, or the people who drop in looking for resources or connections, or even for the community residents around us who might get involved. This venture isn’t just about them…it’s about my journey, helping me to learn how to Live in Community with geater intention. Full stop.
And, this “revelation” of sorts will also keep me humble because as I come into the venture “helping individuals lead fulfilling lives in community,” I’m not coming into the situation “with all the answers.” I’m not coming to “help someone” – “save them” – “equip them with life-skills.” No, we’re coming into a relationship – a community – to discover what is already here, to find one another’s gifts, and to support one another in our personal journeys. And I’m convinced that in and through that, I will learn…as much or more as anyone.
I don’t have the answer.
I just have the power of a question.
As a self-centered, egotistical engineer problem-solver, that’s a HUGE admission.
And for once in my life, I’m ok with that.
So Anne, why am I doing this? To learn how to live in community.
That’s pretty awesome. For me.
And all that from a question?!
Thank you for helping me discovery what I needed to understand.