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Soft Eyes

Positively Speaking

A new teacher in an urban setting, he stands in the hall with the principal.  A group of kids dash by.  He makes a derogatory remark based on a stereotype.  The principal says, “If you’re going to work here, you’re going to have to have soft eyes….You’re going to have to see the whole picture.”

The Whole Picture.  How impossible is that?! I mean look at us. We’re artists and retailers, educators and day labourers, nurses and middle management number crunchers, entrepreneurs and shift workers, winners and also rans. The definition of our work presses us into molds that inadvertently shape every level of response. The level of consciousness it takes to rise to ‘soft eyes’ seems a hill too high to climb. We live diametrically opposed lives.

Part of the Picture. It doesn’t get us to ‘soft eyes’ or does it?  What that principal was talking about was seeing the back story in everyone’s life.  I call it seeing the heart of of each person.  Seeing even part of the back story helps.  It keeps us from seeing people as useful.  It keeps you from making the two second diss. You know…you meet someone and things are clicking and then suddenly they say something and it’s a total right off. Or you are stuck in a situation and at first you think this or that person will be useful and then discover they’re not, so off with their heads and a turn of your back to the next person.  It’s technological living.  It’s our worst curse and our greatest opportunity for experiencing transformation.

I was applying for a job. It was a community center of sorts. The first question I was asked? “If you had to fire someone how would you do it ?”

 “First I would make sure we didn’t get to that spot.”  Loud Buzzer Sound. Wrong answer. I knew it was the wrong answer before I spoke. They wanted to know if I could run a tight ship and handle difficult personnel issues. They didn’t ask that. I gave the ‘soft eyes’ answer. First you build community.  People are not a procedure. Every person is a story.

This month I’m launching a broad based educational services organization. It offers these programs called “Waterlily Workshops”. Water lilies are rooted in water. They grow from a different starting point. We get to The Whole Picture by understanding from a new starting point.

The workshops cross the line between sacred and secular back and forth, forth and back. Some are faith based and some are not.  You get to The Whole Picture when you stop pigeon-holing.

They’re for parents, and pastors, and personal growth.  Always , while developing , I had to cease to ask, ‘what sells’ and start to think ‘what serves’.  My favorite part.

It’s very exciting to see it come together.  I love people and the next few years will be full of opportunities to support people who want to be encouraged.

The name of the organization is LGC . Learning, Growing, Celebrating.   Learning what you didn’t know you knew.  Growing from a new starting point. Celebrating transformation. That’s the LGC you’ve been seeing down by my name for the last year. LGC.  And the Waterlily up top of course.

It’s possible to live a nuts and bolts life, or a life with a very narrow cultural definition. But what’s the point of that?  The most substantial journey is new every morning, a tad uncomfortable and joyously triumphant.  Because if we’re going to live together, we’re going to have to see The Whole Picture.