Wild Geese

This poem spoke to me the other day, and I wanted to share it with you. I think it provides some perspective in our otherwise crazy world:

Wild Geese
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Mary Oliver

signoff

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Putting it in Perspective

KellySometimes days in the office are rough. The clock crawls by, the coffee runs out, and the computer monitors give me a headache. But on those days I try to remember that my job is to make life better for little girls like Kelly, pictured above, who lives in abject poverty in Nicaragua. Remembering that what I do directly affects this little girl and thousands like her keeps me going.

“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”
– Theodore Roosevelt

xo. Brie

I took a trip to Haiti

I recently traveled with Cross International to photograph some of our projects in Haiti, as well as interview families benefiting from our work there.  I’d never been to Haiti, but traveling is my favorite, so I loaded up my camera and anti-malaria meds and took off.

What I saw was incredible.

I’m not talking about the poverty or the sickness, the mud huts, families still living in tents, or the kids eating dirt cookies. Yes, those things were all present and heartbreaking, but that’s not what really caught my eye.

What most amazed me about Haiti were the people. They’re hardworking, friendly, and caring. They see you and immediately smile and greet you. I can’t speak any Creole, but I got by on my meager knowledge of French. “Bonjour, bonsoir, and merci beaucoup” were the only words I directly exchanged with anyone. But through the translator I was able to hear their stories. Stories of how a family that has 6 children will still share their food with the neighbors. Stories of how a little girl would walk two hours a day just to get clean water; and always did it without complaining. Stories of the community coming together to harvest the communal cornfields so the local school could feed the kids a hot lunch every day.

The love of people is what struck me in Haiti.

Here’s a few of my favorite photos from the trip. I hope they touch you like they did me.

Girl-in-crowd

haiti_kids

ladies

bucket

Acephie-Bernard

fingers

Worth it?

What are you worth?

It’s not hypothetical or even a trick question, so go on. Answer it. What are you worth?

Confused? Let me elaborate.

I was recently confronted with this question while talking with a few friends I haven’t seen in awhile. It was one of those great conversations where one minute we were discussing how the tall, skinny guy who just walked by obviously didn’t have a girlfriend because no self-respecting girl would let her significant other leave the house in socks that high and shorts that small. Then suddenly the direction changed and we were busily discussing human worth in the global economy. Not a light subject, but discussed over a bowl of non-fat cheesecake frozen yogurt topped with strawberries, kiwis and cheesecake bites, it seemed doable.

The question of worth assumes a few things. First of all, it assumes there is a scale on which we can measure worth that is based in something else. Maybe it’s a monetary scale. How much are you worth in dollar signs? This seems to be the scale our American culture bases a great deal of worth on. I mean let’s be honest; a CEO does not have the same worth as a plumber (that is until you need a plumber, then their worth seems to increase dramatically.)

So maybe that’s it? Maybe we measure worth based on what your value is to me? You can do this for me, therefore I value you. Worth here is assuming that we base importance off of getting something that we need or want. And we all do that, be honest. It’s not a pretty trait, but it is a human one. None of us really want to be seen as that shallow but in reality, our selfish nature is incredibly tough to shake.

The more we sat and talked about it though, the clearer it became that perhaps we were approaching the question from the wrong angle. What if, and this seems crazy, we didn’t require people to earn their worth, but we allowed them to already be enough.

What’s that?

What if, a person was already priceless? What if we abandoned this flawed sliding scale of importance in favor of the idea that the things a person does and the money (or lack thereof) that they possess is in no way tied to their worth? By separating these ideas, we not only go counter-culture, but I think we can more clearly begin to understand the level of love we are supposed to have for people.

Think about it. If I already see you as priceless, then no amount of money is going to shake that. If I see you as a treasure, then even if you never do anything for me, you’re still a treasure. Because your worth was never tied to my happiness or what I can get from you. See this is where that selfishness creeps in again. We base others worth off what they do instead of who they are.

So maybe this is a new thought for you like it was for me, or it’s very possible I’m just late to the party and discovering something most people already think about and discuss. Either way, it rattled me a bit to realize how much consumerism and our culture affects every single area of our lives. And I think it’s important for us to take a minute and recognize the framework that’s been built around us and if need be, break it down in favor of something better.