learning roots

Currently reading six-ish books, many of which I’ve been “reading” for off and on for a year. Not sure why I haven’t been able to get through them, I just lose interest about half way. Several are health-related [Food is Your Best Medicine, Detoxification and Healing, Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit], some are international development tales [Mountains Beyond Mountains, Three Cups of Tea], and some are faith-based [Follow Me to Freedom: Leading and Following as an Ordinary Radical].

Last night I read this part of Follow Me to Freedom [by Shane Claiborne and John M. Perkins]:

“Commitment is not a cultural value. Wanna be radical? Commit to a neighborhood for 10 years! Every generation has its good and every generation has its bad. One of the great things about my generation is our global awareness. With the Internet and all, the world has shrunk into a global neighborhood. Folks are aware of what’s happening in Uganda and East Timor. Young folks care about who made their clothes and where their bananas come from and how much the folks who grew their coffee get paid. But there is also a sort of missional ADD. Young people want to do everything…for three months. They want to go to Africa. They want to do Mission Year, and City Year, AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, and Jesuit Volunteer Corps. They want to do Teach for America and be and intern here and an apprentice there. But it can be very parasitical. They glean all this knowledge and experience but can end up doing internships until they’re 40! Then they are ready to retire! Incidentally, these short-term experiences have to lead to long-term commitment. Otherwise, you end up running around from experience to experience and doing all sorts of little projects that are great for your own formation and sense of meaning, but they have very little lasting fruit or enduring impact on anyone else.” [Shane, in his late twenties, early 30s I think]

I can relate to that feeling. And to be honest, at moments of discontent, I’ve always begun to explore other options. A lot of that is knowing all the opportunities that exist, that I could have, all the cool things to do and places to see that rile my spirits, right at my fingertips.

But there is something to be said for putting down roots, so I’m told :) I hope I have the courage to discover the beauty and wisdom of commitment.

I know that is one of the biggest things I have learned from working at WaterPartners-now-Water.org, is just how slowly truly GOOD work is cultivated [how much goes into it]. Gary started this work 20 years ago – thinking only of building the sector intelligibly and sustainabely to create structural change, not to just throw some projects up and feel good. He has made sacrifices for it, developed it little by little with integrity, accountability, and a small, dedicated team. He’s helped more and more people slowly but surely, following up and monitoring projects, partners, progress. Development. It has only been in the past few years that grants have grown significantly [by millions], attention has been paid to his work, recognition and awards by bigger institutions have been given, his reputation has been made known [enter Matt Damon], the team has grown [over the past year], donations have increased…the snowball effect of 20 years, hidden among a world of “Now!” and people chasing shiny objects.

I just “happened” to enter into it all during the culmination of recognition for this steady, successful work, into a real-life “Tortoise and the Hare” story. I’ve already learned so much and I am terribly grateful for it.


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