Community Drop In Group Week of 3/25/2019.
Last Saturday, we had our first annual organizational retreat for CCM. This is a time we intend each year to pause, reconsider our Mission and Vision, what we have done over the past year well, what were our challenges, what we would like to do moving forward— especially priorities. The meeting was deeply inspiring and re-affirming of our passion for this organization and its mission to share mindfulness as a healing resource.
In sharing about our retreat, I want to start with my recent spring break trip to New Mexico. I do this because I found the trip had surprisingly relevant insights for me in regards to our organizational retreat.
I lived for 3 years in Albuquerque, NM during my Family Practice medical residency, and I had not been back in 20+ yrs. I had no idea how important it would feel to me to go back. What made it so moving for me was the mountain— Sandia Crest a 10,000 ft mountain that rises straight up from the eastern edge of the city.
Seeing this mountain again after all these years, I knew immediately how fundamental the mountain had been as an anchor for my soul in the sometimes soul deadening times of residency. I knew how important the mountain had been to deepening my sense of the sacred in this world, of knowing a kind of healing, love, care that matters, that connects all beings and the Earth itself.
The sight of that mountain almost brought me to tears— it had been that important in my life and to some extent I had forgotten the depth of that. What’s interesting is that everyone I’ve shared that with since I got back, has asked “do you think you will move back there?” I even asked it to myself in the midst of the surprise of how moving that mountain was for me, how important it felt to my essence to see it again.
And the answer is a clear no. Seeing the mountain and remembering what it meant to my heart demanded that I see fresh what I have here that I have no desire to give up for even that. It helped me see with renewed clarity my anchors and mountain here. There are many, but a huge one is this community and its willingness to explore the sharing mindfulness for ourselves and for this world.
Our retreat was a testament to not just a willingness, but a passion for it. It was deeply affirming that we want to do this work, want to be here, offering Mindfulness as a healing resource in our community.
Our Mission and Vision:
Mission Empowering individuals and our diverse communities through mindfulness to create a more intentionally compassionate and engaged Charlotte.
Vision Charlotte Center for Mindfulness is an essential resource rooted in the community where ALL- regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, age, income, sexual orientation, gender identity or immigration status– come together to cultivate a more mindful life and bring healing to ourselves and each other.
We re-affirmed this mission and vision, and particularly talked of our hope to carry Mindfulness out into the community where it might not otherwise reach.
As I said above, we talked about some of the things we feel we’ve done well including:
adopting a radical model of inclusion which explicitly values all voices in our whole organization— even if we are still figuring out how to do that well—, expanding the community drop in groups, expanding class offerings, our first book group, adding a teen drop in group, continuing at the Jail and in two schools, offering two community retreats, new website, Mindfulness Teacher Diversity Program, and finishing in the “black” despite sliding scale for everyone and limited resources for both time and money.
We named challenges among which include: administrative time and know how, fund raising, learning how to best share our presence. We realized that our school program presented its own particular challenge. We recognized a need for that to be its own full time thing to be successful and therefore our need to lay it down and focus on youth outreach in other ways that make sense with our other projects.
We identified 3 clear priorities for this year, in this order:
Housekeeping at our base including: administration, fund raising, publicizing, effectiveness of time and energy in tasks and meetings— and we included in this having a room of our own.
Home base offerings: we want to strengthen our community groups, offer more alternative possibilities like the book group or a cancer group or a grieving or mourning group, offer more classes and retreats. We want to look for ways for people to connect with each other on this mindfulness journey.
Outreach: we want to be able to take out into the community this to people who might not as readily sign up here. We feel that strengthening the first two, having a stronger home base, helps support us in reaching out.
Out of those priorities, we picked one to focus on as a place to start— finding a room of our own, a real place for a “center” for Charlotte Center for Mindfulness, which you will hear more about and I hope you will help support.
There’s a lot we want to do, and our hope is that if you have found this organization in service of your life, you will seek a way that is right for you to help us continue this mission to share mindfulness as a healing resource in our larger community. This can be in so many ways. Maybe you’d like to volunteer with us, donate money for projects or our new space, or technical know how where we can use some help. Just your presence here in these meetings helps spread this mission because whatever you get here, you will take out with you sharing in some way with your family, your friends or with your community.
I want to finish with another story from New Mexico. I once took care of beautiful older couple from way out rural New Mexico where they no running water in the house and no electricity. I loved visiting in their room in the hospital and listening to their stories. Their room was like a refuge in the busy hospital. Once the wife shared with me that between their kids, their grandkids, their foster kids and their adopted kids, they had helped raise thirty-two kids. I jokingly said You must like children! She answered from her heart in a way that gave me pause, I love children.
They were at the hospital because the wife had kidney failure. She was getting dialysis in hopes that her kidneys would recover. Her kidneys were not recovering.
As this became evident, one morning, our attending physician, on our “rounds”, explained to couple that the wife could not survive now without dialysis for the rest of her life. They would need to move someplace where continued dialysis would be possible. The couple very simply smiled and replied, No thank you. We’re ready to go home.
The Attending assumed the couple had not understood and asked me to go back later to explain. I had already sat with them and knew they understood just fine, but always glad to be with them, I went back as he asked, and I opened the conversation again. I will never forget how peaceful and beautiful it was to sit with them. They were completely solidly clear with what living well and dying well meant and happy to share their wisdom with me.
There was something in that room with them that was as strong as the mountain out the hospital window. Contemplating now why I know I have no need to move back to New Mexico to be next to that mountain again, this is the kind of strength I know we are beginning to grow here. I love this shared experiment with mindfulness that we are creating together, and I am glad you are joining in whatever way works best for you.