There is in the Old Testament a story of a reluctant leader named Moses standing before a burning bush, being called upon to the great task of leading a group of people through a very hard time. This hesitant headman wanted nothing to do with the nation of people confused, shaken, and crying out for help. He was quite content tending sheep, minding his own business, and basically chilling outside of the limelight or any real social obligation. He stands there, doubtful, unengaged, and not buying into the idea that there was anything he could do.
Standing there before this bush ablaze yet not burning, a Voice emerges from the bush and asks Moses a question that echoes in my heart today: “What’s in your hand?”
The Exodus 3-4 story goes on to tell of miraculous things that happened: Moses took the thing in his hand, a staff, threw it to the ground and it became a snake. He picked it up, it was a staff again… let’s just say it took a lot for his reclusive renegade to buy into the idea that now is the time and he had a key role to play in supporting and serving others through leadership. He had a hard time believing that he—who had a hard time speaking in public or standing before crowds—had anything of value to share with a nation.
That thought is echoing in my mind today as we stand beyond the edge and already surfing the initial waves of a global pandemic in our country. Wow—if we stood before a burning bush today, what would it say, what instructions would it give to bring relief to the masses?
I think it might ask us, “What’s in your hand?”
For some of us, the thing in our hand is leadership. We can be like Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, and look for ways to pay the hourly workers who sell tickets and nachos and clean the Mavs arena even though no games are happening. For others of us the thing in our hands is time. We could be like the retirement home workers who are spending extra time caring for patients and connecting individually since those homes are shut down to outside visitors. Perhaps the thing in our hand is a turkey sandwich. We could be like the national deli chain who is offering kids 12 and under free sack lunches each day so with schools closed no child has to go hungry.
On and on the stories go—stores opening early only for the elderly to minimize risk and infection, restaurants closing but offering delivery for shut-ins, museums, Broadway theaters, and media outlets offering free web-based cultural and learning opportunities via the internet, accessible for those social distancing at home.
This is a time unlike any our nation or our world has seen yet in my lifetime. It’s hard. It’s isolating. And it’s a little bit scary. But, perhaps it can be the best of times, too. Perhaps in the moments of disconnection, fear, and isolation we have the chance to be intentional in our relationships, be brave, and come together.
At Our Community Listens we imagine a society in which people care about each other first. We work toward that through sharing tools, platforms, and experiences for real, authentic, meaningful human connection. So, as a leader I am left asking myself, “Rebecca, what’s in your hand? What is in our hand collectively as a team?” The answer is connection. The answer is care. The answer is providing grace and a space for people to be seen, valued, cared for, listened to, and heard.
So, dear friends, that is what we collectively during this time choose to intentionally and purposefully share. Yesterday we made the tough decision to postpone all in-person classes at least through April and possibly longer, and in that light to open the opportunity to connect in different ways. Our goal is to offer space for caring communities to connect—for the person working at home to have a virtual space where they are not isolated; for the parent home schooling for the first time to connect and express shared frustrations or opportunities for understanding; the space for local, national, and global leaders to say, “here’s what working for my team and how we’re caring for our people. Maybe these thoughts will spur ideas for your team, too.”
So today, friends, I ask you the same question: What’s in your hand? What do you have right before you that may seem meaningless but can be a gift to share for others? In this time of uncertainty, rapid change, and disruption, how can you connect with and serve those in the community, the nation…or in your own home?
We invite you to join us in the #CareandConnectionChallenge. In this time, reflect on how you and/or those around you are intentionally connecting in meaningful ways and highlight those moments of humanity in a short video (1 minute or less). By posting it on your favorite social media sites using #CareandConnectionChallenge and tagging your friends, you'll join a national movement fueled by authentic care and compassion. Our organization will post short virtual learning moments on how to respond to someone in stress, how to pause before responding, how to have empathy, reflectively listen, and truly connect. Accept the challenge, use the hashtag, tag your friends and join us in imagining a world where people care for one another first.
What’s in your hand?
Caring alongside you,