Do you get into ‘Good Trouble’? Hope So!

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Lori Guarisco has laughing eyes, and she is always getting people into “good trouble” as John Lewis calls it. A gazillion people at All Saints’ have gotten into good trouble at Threads, our  mission dedicated to clothing children in need with dignity.

Lori is a dancer and performance artist as well as the coordinator of Threads.  She is a delight on so many levels, and right now I am remembering an Easter story that Lori told recently on the night of the Keep Threads Hanging On Auction.  Here is what she said:

“People just want to be loved. as long as that is true there will continue to be children who need to be clothed.

So thank you for helping make that happen.  I really love how so many of the auction items don’t have a starting bid. Instead they are marked as ‘priceless’, which is what Threads is – ‘priceless’.”

 

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People donated priceless stuff to the Threads Auction, including hours and hours and hearts and minds and art and all manner of things to delight.

Lori continues, “Just this week we have served 42 children – ten were here this morning!   The Saturday morning the children were all refugees—and no surprise they are artists— and they are the ones who painted the windows of Threads!

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Windows of Light and Handprints and Heart-thrilling colors!  Painted by refugee children.

A couple of days ago, we served 32 children including Quinton.  Quinton is about nine years old, and he and his grandmother and brothers and sisters came in pulling empty suitcases with a voucher that they had received from our newest referral partner, Markus Autism Center.

The grandmother explained to me that they had their suitcases because they were on their way to Michigan.

MICHIGAN! I Cried,  I’M FROM MICHIGAN! I WAS BORN IN KALAMAZOO!

The grandmother says I WAS BORN IN KALAMAZOO, TOO!

So immediately we are friends!

 

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Lori is from Kalamazoo! Who Knew?

(Martha aside: If we just take a moment, we will almost always find common ground.  Lori and the grandmother found Kalamazoo! Some time today, look for common ground with a stranger.  Common ground helps. I promise.)

 

 

As Quinton begins to look around, i explain to the grandmother how Threads works. That everything is free. That everything is washed. That all four children will get new shoes, new socks, new underwear.  And she bursts into tears.

And right about that time Quinton has discovered the EASTER RACK!!

And on the Easter Rack, he has found a full suit in his size including a tie and a shirt! With a big smile on his face he lifts it off the rack and announces to everyone:

I can wear this to my father’s funeral!

You see, that is why they were traveling to Michigan.

And that is priceless.”

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Jesus keeps telling us these two things: Fear Not and Love.  Priceless.

Thank you, dearest Lori. Thank you for all the love and expertise and diplomacy and creativity you pour into Threads. 

And thank all the rest of you ‘Thread-ians’ who buy the clothes, bring the clothes, sort the clothes, display the clothes, handle the records, shop with the children, get a kick out of your Threads friends and days together, and all the other beautiful moments done with love that keep Threads hanging on.  You are all Good Trouble Makers.  And You are all priceless.

 

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Here I am between  Two Very Good Trouble-Makers—Lauri Begley and Melanie Hardin.  I just put this picture in because I like being surrounded by kind geniuses!

Finally here’s the courtyard as that Threads Auction evening was coming on. It was the Saturday of Easter Week.  There were mysterious and beautifully dressed children floating everywhere.

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Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children,
Hidden excitedly, containing laughter.
Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.   (T. S. Eliot)

But T. S., I beg to differ!  Around this block, we do try time and again to bear reality. We try to love God’s world, really.  Sometimes we fail but sometimes we do love so powerfully. Some moments we do  hold the real world in our arms, just like our Savior Jesus held the little children, we love the Children of God with compassion, practicality, and yes some really cool threads.

Happy Eastertide.

Martha +


 

 

What do you most desire for your country and for yourself right this moment??

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True, true, true. Philo, Socrates, Jesus, Dalai Lama, everybody says it.
I went visiting over at Midtown Assistance Center last week and Executive Director  Dorothy Chandler, Olympic Gold Medal Winner of the Compassion Marathon (23 years at MAC!),  mentioned a volunteer who brings in  REALLY GOOD snack bags.  He  named the snack bags for his Aunt B! I don’t know the back story on that but may Aunt B be our muse. She passed along compassion somehow!  And as George Eliot wrote, “What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for one another?”

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One of our Saints, Nadia Fountain does ministry at MAC on Wednesdays.
Nadia says “I volunteer with another member, Lisby Ritchie, when I can.  I worked in wealth management in the past so it seemed almost like penance to give my time to poverty alleviation.  It really is an incredible place and I truly enjoy the time I spend there,  I have met so many people from so many walks of life that were able to use a little boost to get them back on their feet.  I have been blessed in so many ways and and feel compelled to do something to give back and help make someone’s world a better place, this is my something:-)”

Nadia adds, “someone asked me just this week if I can give an example of what agape love looks like and I thought of Dorothy Chandler and the way she interacts and engages with some of the scruffiest looking clients you could imagine.   She does so in a way that they feel dignified enough to keep returning even if their visit is limited just to a snack pack and a  conversation with her at the door:”

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Here are Dorothy and the B Snacks.  ( 1500 so far).   Dorothy says an alarming trend is RETIRED HUNGRY PEOPLE. She questions: “People work hard all their lives for this?”

Dorothy says that when she gets up and is getting ready, “I think about the people who come to MAC and tears come to my eyes.  Not tears of sadness but tears of joy because we are doing something that matters. MAC helps.”

How do people become compassionate?  Is compassion in your DNA?

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Tommy is a long time MAC volunteer.  It’s in his DNA! His mom and aunt helped start the St. Luke’s  and Inman Park Soup Kitchens.

Here’s another Compassion in the DNA story from Wendy Silliman.

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Wendy and Margaret. Having compassion is sometimes pain-filled but having compassion also makes people have these kinds of life-filled faces. Holy, holy, holy.

Wendy writes,  “one of my favorite MAC stories is that Dorothy Chandler is the one who came up with the initial idea for Threads!   Back in 2003, an Ad Hoc Missions Committee led by Bob Miller was exploring new missions.  Our first step was to investigate existing needs around the area.  I called Dorothy to get her take on current community needs.  She said that although MAC had a men’s clothing closet, no one had the space to house children’s clothing.  As I then called other ministries, they agreed that a children’s clothing closet would be very helpful for the area.  At the same time, the results of a parish forum and survey showed that All Saints wanted to do a new mission focusing on children and at or close to our blockThus need met desire and of course, we had to put the All Saints twist on it and make it an upscale clothing boutique where we could clothe children in need with dignity.”

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Even our core outreach ministries have DNA! Threads is a compassionate child of MAC.  And look above to see what’s coming in April.

I think you can also catch compassion like a good cold.  I know I have caught compassion down through the years from All the Saints.

 

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All Saints’ Founders of MAC and young friends – Ann Mobley Hasset and Kim Jackson. I remember when MAC was on our block. We’ve always been a compassion incubator!

I believe that compassion is in our DNA as children of God. And yes, compassion can be taught and caught. And as Jesus laid it on us in the beatitudes, compassion is often the hard and holy  lesson of one’s own personal loss.

Here is blessed Naomi Shihab Nye on Kindness, aka Compassion.

Kindness

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. 
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

 

One day complete justice and total mercy will kiss us into eternity. In the meantime, let us be a little strong and also be a little kind.  That’s a good day’s work any day, every day. 

 

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Be kind. Be kind. Be kind.  T’is the secret of life everlasting.

Martha +