Monday, January 23, 2006

Mission Statement


Here is a first draft of a new mission statement that is helping me focus my passions:

TO RESPECT THE IMAGE OF GOD IN ALL LIVING THINGS AND TO ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO DO THE SAME

As Ghandi once said, “If one cannot find God in his neighbor, one need not look further.”
I am so challenged by this idea, especially when one’s neighbor is also one’s enemy. Christ’s provocative messages about turning our other cheek to our enemy, and real non-violence defined as not even hating another in one’s heart strike a deep chord in me. If Love and Peace are truly the pillars of my belief system, then my only acceptable actions and reactions must be rooted there. How many people (my perceived enemies: Lovers of Power, Haters of Peace, Oppressors of Women, Abusers of Children, Liars, Racists, Murderers) have I held hostage by my own disdain, intolerance, judgment, even hate? How can I begin to hope for transformation in the world unless, while exposing and protesting the actions of my “enemies”, I am also respecting the image of God in them, however dimly it is being reflected? Am I capable of releasing the bondage of hate I hold them in, and freeing them to the healing power of reconciliation? Is that even possible? I must believe it to be, or there is no hope.

I can visualize how this mission statement has already begun to inform my actions, and I desire it to continue to shape my ways of seeing, thinking, and being. It requires a new equality, in which I care for the powerless as equal siblings in our human family. It requires an honoring of the earth, as I recognize the breath of God in every creature, cloud, and blade of grass. It requires a nurturing of my self: body, mind, soul. And to encourage other’s to recognize the sacred in themselves and in all living things speaks to my role as writer, artist, peacemaker, and activist.

In the recently released film “ONE”, Father Thomas Keating is asked what his one wish for the world would be, this is his response (listen here):

“One wish for the world? Well, it could only be one thing, and that is that it might experience it’s destiny, which is not necessarily to get rid of all suffering, but to be able to lead human life in a divine way. That’s the project as far as I can see. And each of us is sort of a new way in which God can experience what it’s like to be human. So what seems to me the most desirable goal for ourselves is to allow God to manifest himself in us. This is by manifesting Divine Love in everything we do every moment. It doesn’t mean big things, but that intention of serving, of giving, and of welcoming everybody into our lives who wants to come.”

May this sacred wish live in me.

7 Comments:

Blogger steph said...

Great mission statement Tonya.

This whole idea of actually living out who Jesus was is a quest for me and what you have written speaks to me further on this.

5:44 AM  
Blogger tess said...

This is an inspiring mission, Tonya! Is there anything more important than recognizing our oneness and striving to act on that in love? You have an incredibly beautiful soul, and I have enjoyed catching up on your posts.

By the way, have you seen the documentary "Born into Brothels"? It's about a photographer who lived in a brothel in Calcutta over a period of years and transformed the lives of some of the children there by teaching them her craft.

It is one of the most powerful things I have seen, and I was just thinking you might want to see it if you haven't. (I'm often out of touch--it's probably old news, especially given that it won the Oscar for Best Documentary. But, I try to listen to my little intuitive urgings, so there you go...)

8:06 PM  
Blogger tonya said...

Thank you, Stephanie and Tess!

Tess, yes I've seen Born into Brothels (i'm a documentary junkie). It is a wonderful example of how one woman used her skill to bring honor and healing to group of forgotten children. beautiful! may we all find our path to doing just that.

8:43 AM  
Blogger Tonya said...

"It doesn’t mean big things, but that intention of serving, of giving, and of welcoming everybody into our lives who wants to come."

Long ago I adopted a Rule of Life (from the Northumbria Community) Availability and Vulnerability. Seems simple...is not. But I try to live it out in little ways every day. That serving part...Lord, help me be more like you!

9:50 PM  
Blogger anj said...

Tonya - I LOVE your mission statement. Have you ever read Practicing the Presence of People by Mike Mason? It is similiar to what you write, written in a kind of devotional form. I remember the first time I was able to look at an abuser and see the image-bearer and be moved with compassion for the wasteland in his soul. It was AWEsome. We have somewhat similiar Mission statements, although worded differently.

8:44 AM  
Blogger tonya said...

Thank you for the encouragement Tonya and Anj. I"ll check out that book by Mason. I'm curious what your mission statement is, Anj? It comes through loud and clear in your writing, but I'd love to hear the actual wording.

8:40 AM  
Blogger Katalyst said...

Okay, so how is it you are everything I am and I everything you are (except the pilates instructor)! How did you get to be a doula before me when I'm older! This is more of a hats off than the whine that it appears to be. We even like the same movies! Did you see Nicole Kidman in The Interpreter? I'm sharing Jehane's Pangea Day project with my classes and figuring out how to support it as part of our service learning endeavors. May all your paths create peace. Namaste.

3:54 PM  

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