Letter to the editor: Communities can heal through caring, good deeds

A couple weeks before Thanksgiving this Gospel song came to me. “There’s a healing somewhere. There’s a healing somewhere. Don’t you go until you find it. There’s a healing somewhere.” Sister Alice Martin taught me that Gospel song. Sister Alice is the pastor of a church in the heart of Philadelphia. Her congregation includes people released from prison, recovering addicts, and anyone else who feels welcomed in her presence.
I tell you this story since we have experienced the jolt of the election. I remain with an open heart and mind. I realize that the most important work I can do (since I am retired) is community based. I want to know that community members have food and a warm place to live this winter season. The Have a Heart Food Shelf, Project Warmth, CVOEO, the Charter House Coalition, WomenSafe, HOPE, John Graham Shelter, COTS, United Way…welcome donations.
I also want our community to continue to listen to each others’ stories, like the “Moth style” storytelling events we have had at Holley Hall in Bristol. Maybe we can even have a community potluck. When we do, bring extra food, so that anyone can come, with or without a food donation.
Why is community so important? At this time in our lives, we can be driven by forces that polarize us. I do not want to fall into the trap of judging others or demonizing others. I rather we share our common humanity. I borrow these words from a meditation teacher.
“May all beings be filled with loving kindness. May all beings be held in loving kindness.” I like the internal/external aspects of these states of being. It is a difficult time to seek truth and meaning. We are bombarded with words, images, and symbols that do not embellish our common humanity. 
I am grateful to the Addison Independent for offering itself up as a potential community writing project, by allowing us to speak through letters to the editor. On Nov. 21, faith leaders in the Middlebury area wrote, “And we encourage members of our communities to engage in acts of compassion and solidarity as a public statement to our shared humanity.” Thank you for your collective wisdom.
On Thanksgiving day, Mr. Trump joined my vision of searching for healing. Two days later I sent him this message in a postcard. “Dear Mr. Trump, If you want our nation to heal, then surround yourself with a team of open minded and open hearted people. Your actions speak louder than your words. Sincerely, Patty”
And that Gospel song? It has many verses: “There’s more love somewhere.” “There’s more peace somewhere.” “There’s more joy somewhere.” Make up your own verses. (If you want to know the tune, go to youtube and type in: there’s more love somewhere.)
And Sister Alice? She has offered many lessons over the years. Here are some: “You are precious. You are a jewel. Sometimes, you have to make adjustments. There is a fighter in you. Find good news in bad times. Strength in our internal helps us face the external. Where you are right now is a piece of the puzzle.
We don’t know what we’ve signed up for. Show yourself mighty. Show yourself strong, in the midst of the storm. Live, on purpose. A little love goes a long way. There is no room for the haters. Embrace life. Embrace the repositioning that life brings. A most devastating thing is to forget where you come from. You forget your compassion. Find peace in the midst of the storm.”
Thank you, Sister Alice. Thank you community members, open to listening.
Thank you beloved community. “In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.” (thekingcenter.org, “The King Philosophy”).
Patricia Heather-Lea

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