One of our guides on our recent trip to Yellowstone National Park told us that the geothermal features can shift and move over time. She said that when they became problematic to a road, the original response was to pave over them. Eventually, they began to re-route the road or change planned construction, instead of attempting to “tame” the hot spring or geyser. As she put it, “Geology is boss.”
I wonder how long it took them to come to that conclusion. How often do we attempt to “solve” problems by administering the same “solutions” without the desired outcome? As Albert Schweitzer is often quoted as saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
Mindless repetition whether paving over Mother Nature’s marvelous works to “maintain” the road or repeating the same behavior in our own lives that has proven itself unworkable, is like the hamster running on a wheel, expending lots of energy but getting nowhere.
This topic is especially relevant to me and to all those in churches and other organizations that thrived in the 50s and 60s. One problem lies in that these attempted solutions were formerly standard operating procedure which worked well in previous years. So we turn to what we know, what has felt comfortable and are puzzled when it doesn’t work.
How does one stay vital in a culture that over time has shifted so dramatically? “Work smarter, not harder” comes to mind. Pay attention to what excites you, gets your blood pumping, a vision of your desired goal. Then figure out the steps to reach it and evaluate as you go.
I was once part of a visioning process in a church that was seeking to revitalize itself, to develop new ways to relate in a meaningful way to the community. We did a visualization exercise with the goal to imagine our church in the future. One person said he saw the church dark and shuttered. I was aghast. I had seen in my image a group of children playing in the yard adjacent to fellowship hall being called in to supper where they joined their families, which seemed a bit farfetched in a church with no children. Six or eight months later, however, we began to work with what was then called Interfaith Hospitality Network, where churches rotate opening their spaces to homeless families a week at a time. The first night we served the network I was awestruck as I watched the children come in from playing outside to join their parents for the evening meal, just as I had envisioned it.
There may always be naysayers to a vision and perhaps they have valid points to consider. But it serves any organization to have enthusiastic people and leaders who can help focus that energy to pursue and carry out a vision.
May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter. Shalom, Kate
Hope’s Café Bonus: Do One Thing Different by Bill O’Hanlon, describes a process of change making one small alteration at a time, another suggestion. One change builds on another.