Friday, November 23, 2012

One True Thing from Michael Reynolds: Everyone Deserves a Place at the Table

My second oldest brother, Mike, used to give me worksheets to do as a kid. He would exude teacherly joy as he described what I would need to do on the worksheets, then pass them out to his class (me) and then wait the appropriate time as I did my best. Mike would then collect the worksheets from the class and grade them, applying a large and quite sparkly smiley face sticker when I did well, and a You'll Get It! across the top when my work could--ahem--use a little improvement.

Mike & Tyler at Clifford's Tower, York
I was about six years old; Mike was ten. Since then, Mike's love of teaching and learning has taken him into the lives of wonderful students and school systems as both an elementary school teacher and a social worker. Even now, at the age of 35, Mike still uses sparkly smiley faces and stickers, and still offers gentle encouragement to others to keep working hard. Mike loves people with more grace than most of us can imagine. If you're white, black, brown, yellow, or any color of the magnificent skin-dyes this planet boasts, Mike is going to love you. If you're gay, straight, or anything else, Mike is going to love you. If you're rich or poor by any nuanced definition of the word, Mike is going to love you.

In high school, Mike volunteered with a number of super-cool groups, but it's his work with Special Olympics that is most powerful in my mind these decades later. I remember going to watch the sporting events where Mike would play alongside Olympians, sparkling smiles merging all around, and watching the gentleness, joy, and exuberant love for all around him just screamed from the playing field or basketball court. And as a kid brother four years the younger, watching this kind of role model was so deeply moving for me.

I'm really honored and excited to share One True Thing today from a guy I love deeply and whose example I will always admire and try to emulate.

Everyone Deserves a Place at the Table
by Michael Reynolds

Mike (far right) with brothers Matthew & I
in ancient Jorvik garb
Justice is rising. It is here. It is among us. It is within us. It is beyond us. This is one truth that gives me continual courage and hope. Not because it is an idea, or something to create in and for the future. But because I see it, hear it, feel it and experience it today. In the moment. In the present.

In the mother who chooses to keep a friendly and joyful spirit, while standing for what is right and necessary for her children, in the midst of the ever-present stressors experienced by her family, and many beyond her control. In the gathering of Catholics at "Call to Action's" National conference, standing as a people who declare through lived action and conviction that WE, all of us, are the church, and giving all an equal and valued place at the table of our faith and communion. In the laws and provisions that affirm marriage equality for all loving and committed couples who desire to share in this pledge of commitment. In the human spirit, that is alive and well, and stirring in us always, calling us to love more deeply.

For justice is love birthed, and justice leads us all to love more deeply.