May 21, 2002

Bird by Bird

Someone asked me recently how she could find build a network of like-minded people. I related a story told by the writer, Anne Lamott:

"Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said, 'Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.' "

Building a network of friends is a similar huge task. But it begins with one other person. You meet the person. You call him for coffee. You call again. You meet face to face periodically. You share what is going on in your life. You build intimacy.

Then you meet another and repeat the process. And another. And another. It takes years to do this. It takes great time and energy. It takes perseverance. It takes dealing with failure and loss when someone disappears on you. But it is all worth it.

You do it bird by bird, person by person.

Building Shalom Seacoast is the same process. It is taking many different steps, one by one, but ultimately it is building a web of relationships. This is done not by any group of leaders. This is done by each individual member building a web of intimacy.

A Gathering is a place to start. I used to hate large groups of people. For me, any group over five is big. I would be in a group of twenty and feel like I needed to connect with all twenty. I would be overwhelmed and so I would connect with no one. Somewhere I shifted my effort to connect with one out of the twenty. To connect with one was a successful evening.

So come to the June Gathering and connect with one other person. Help us create a community bird by bird.