"When we are really honest with ourselves we must admit that our lives are all that really belong to us. So it is how we use our lives that determines what kind of men and women we are. Cesar Chavez said this and I’ve been thinking about him since hearing the writer Peter Matthiessen speak about him last month at the Buddhist symposium in western Massachusetts where Jeff Bridges and I discussed No Kid Hungry. Matthiessen, author of The Snow Leopard, and now 83, knew and worked closely with Chavez through his leadership of the United Farm Workers, fasts, and grape boycotts. He spoke eloquently about his leadership qualities and we had a chance to talk after the session.
I’ve also been thinking about the quote above because how each of us use our lives, and more specifically how we use the next 100 days will determine much about Share Our Strength and childhood hunger. We are in for a 100 day sprint: The Great American Dine Out, Conference of Leaders, No Kid Hungry, expansion of Operation Frontline, new corporate partnerships.
Near summer’s end we took a ferry to Monhegan Island, 13 miles off Maine’s mid-coast. A mile long by half a mile wide, Monhegan rises dramatically out of the ocean. It is mostly a quiet artist colony with few shops, and no cars. On our hikes, Nate was obsessed with picking sea glass from the gravel that lines the paths. After every step he would bend over, search and scratch at the soil. Once, when I hurried him along, he looked up and said “Dad, Monhegan is not for rushing. It is for being together. That’s the priority here, that’s the whole reason everyone comes.” (It is not always restful having a five year old who reasons and speaks this way.)
In these next 100 days we will need to rush at times. But Nate’s fundamental point is valid too. Our priority must be to be present for and supportive of each other.
In a recent e-mail my colleague Chuck Scofield shared this excerpt from a poem by Gwendolyn Brooks:
"It is the giant-hour.
Nothing less than gianthood will do:
nothing less than mover, prover, shover, cover, lever, diver for giant tacklings, overturnings, new organic staring that will involve, that will involve us all."
Gwendolyn Brooks said in four lines what I tried to say in a page above. It is the giant hour. It will involve us all.