excerpts from an article by Suzanne Guthrie in The Christian Century: "My friend Brother Bede likes to tell a story about the Buddhist saint Milarepa. When demons came to his cave to torment him, Milarepa said to them, "How kind of you to come. you must come again tomorrow. and from time to time we must converse" And Milarepa invited the demons in for tea... "My demons manifest themselves in forms so familiar I don't even recognize them when they come to call until it's too late and I've lost my equilibrium: anxiety, perfectionism, the sweet savor of annoyance over another's bad habits, self loathing... "There was a time when men and women left the cities to encounter God in the desert. But memories, experiences, habits, prejudices, and irrational fears came with them, clashing with silence, starkness and solitude. Extracting themselves from the demons camouflaged within their culture, they found concentrated phantasms erupting from their own thoughts, unhealed personalities and broken selves. Seeking purity of heart, the desert mothers and fathers had to face the demons erupting from their own hearts... "Lately when my own demons show up, I try to have the presence of mind to invite them into my consciousness...Surprisingly, my bad spirits are less chaotic when I pay attention to them..."
God, help me to pay attention to my demons, to learn from them, and to trust in your power to help me overcome them - in your time, and in ways that you would choose. Amen.
I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic and she said yes I asked her if it was okay to be short and she said it sure is I asked her if I could wear nail polish or not wear nail polish and she said honey she calls me that sometimes she said you can do just exactly what you want to Thanks God I said And is it even okay if I don't paragraph my letters Sweetcakes God said who knows where she picked that up what I'm telling you is Yes Yes Yes
from The Palm of your Hand, 1995 Tilbury House Publishers
The Randolph Police had their first interaction with CityLife/VidaUrbana yesterday. When the constable and the truck arrived for the eviction, there were 30 of us on the lawn, with signs, singing, chanting, praying. Soon, police officers started to arrive. One young police officer who arrived a bit later, said to the man holding a sign next to me: “What’s going on? Why are you here? What are you doing?” Our fellow protester explained to the officer that Ketly, the homeowner, had been foreclosed and we wanted Fannie Mae to let her pay fair market rent and stay with her family until the house is sold to someone else. Also, we wanted Fannie Mae to consider, in good faith, an offer that a local non-profit has made to buy the house for cash. Police officer nods his approval: “Good for you guys. That’s great.” The Randolph police gave CL/VU an extra 2 hours past the deadline to try to make the deal. And they were almost as happy as we were when, 15 minutes past the deadline, as the moving truck backed into the driveway, the phone call came: eviction postponed. Fannie Mae will consider the offer.
At Church Hill, we have a new communications group. I sat in on their last meeting. One of the primary goals that was mentioned in our winter focus groups is to attract more young families from the community and this group is working on that goal. Shortly after that meeting, I was in another gathering, where I heard for the 10th or 100th or 1000th time, “it’s just not like it used to be. People just aren’t interested in church anymore. People are too busy. They just don’t care.” Followed by a big sigh and shrug of the shoulders. And for some reason, I thought about soda. Coke, to be specific. And here’s what I thought: When Coca Cola noticed that sales of one particular product have fallen off, and the company’s profits were not as rosy as they used to be, and share holders were getting worried, do you think that people at Coke were hanging around their cubicles saying things like: “What’s wrong with people these days? Don’t they know how delicious this is? Don’t they know what a great product it is? I love it just the way it is. Remember when everybody drank Coke? There are just so many competing products. What can we do?” Followed by a big sigh and shrug of the shoulders. I guarantee you that this did not happen at the corporate offices of Coca Cola. Wishful thinking and blaming consumers is not part of their strategy. Instead, people at coke began to ask questions: How have people’s beverage drinking habits changed? Why have they changed? Do they prefer a different kind of flavor? Is the bottle/can too big, too small? What kinds of beverages are becoming more popular? What will they want to drink tomorrow?
They did research. Then they asked themselves: Do we need to change our formulas? Do we need to change our marketing strategy? What can we do to bring consumers back to Coke products? In other words, how do we need to change to accommodate these new realities?
And then, and here’s the pivotal point: they actually made the changes.
The people at Coke did not blame themselves or others. They did not feel sorry for themselves. They did not give up. They saw a need to take action and they did.
I don’t know what exactly was needed to make the changes. Retrofitting old plants? Building new ones? Changing personnel? Different management strategies? The point it, they did what needed to be done so that no one today is saying, “Coke. I remember that. My parents used to drink it when I was kid.”
So that’s my parable. As Jesus used to say, “let those who have ears, hear.”