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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Meaningful Action

Ahhhh here we are, so soon, in the discussion of contemplation versus action.  This has been the crossroads for people of faith for millennia.  Since Doug invited the importance of the Pause in the last blog, I'll invite the importance of Action.

What I love about the for-profit company Green Mountain Coffee using "A Revelation in Every Cup" as their marketing slogan is that it's actually true.  Potentially true, I should say.

If coffee farmers the world over were paid a fair wage for their effort and product, it would indeed change the world.

If every person sipping a cup of coffee became aware of the entire chain of relationship for that one cup, from growers tilling the soil to community members bringing beans to market to coffee buyers and sellers to the roasters, to the marketers, to the trees grown to make the disposable cup, instead of simply focusing on that one cup and their own price and satisfaction, that would be QUITE a revelation!

And finally, the hope is that such a revelation would change how that one cup of coffee was produced, for the good of God's world, if in fact change was needed.  To be a just world, change is indeed needed. 

Green Mountain Coffee and Ashoka's Changemakers are actually looking "for the most innovative ideas to inspire community action, " hosting a competition to do just that.  They are hoping the moment of revelation with your coffee can be turned into action that "motivates local citizens to strengthen communities." The deadline for idea submissions is April 21st - what an interesting Lenton practice that could be!  "How can I make my community a better place?"

Certainly it is important to stand at the crossroads, pause and reflect, and turn away from busy-ness. Now, I'm wondering if a different crossroads to explore is busy-ness versus action.  Busy means distraction; my attention is fractured, divided up and scattered.  Action means conscious awareness; focused attention with awareness of how everything is connected. So that every choice does indeed matter.

Resources for this exploration:
Just Coffee.org: We met these great folks on the Everything Must Change Tour with Brian McLaren. REALLY good coffee, delivered right to you, and everyone along the way makes their fair share.  No, it's not expensive, either!

Spirituality and Practice: they provide excellent classes, resources, and discussions on action and reflection.  Right now they have two excellent series going on: "Watching the Olympics as a Spiritual Practice" and a Lent series with the writings of Catholic Priest Edward Hayes, who views Lent as a time of expansion and growth instead of restriction and sacrifice. Great stuff!

Center for Action and Contemplation:  "a place of discernment and growth for activists and those interested in social service ministries—a place to be still, and learn how to integrate a contemplative lifestyle with compassionate service." They have events, resources, and is another place for action/reflection conversation.

Charity Focus.org. These folks have many ways of sending out good information in the world, and encouragement for the Faith Journey.  I get a dially email with a quote and a story of GOOD ACTION in the world, with a "how to live this" invitation to ACTION at the end.

Today , the quote was "Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you." --Augustine of Hippo.  The Good Action story was of a coffee shop owner who asked clients to consider setting aside their laptop for a certain amount of time to actually interact with the people sitting in the coffee shop.  The Be The Change invitation was to "budget your computer time, and use your newly freed time to connect with someone face-to-face."
by Tiffany Montavon
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