I started reading the book, “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer during an extended period of leave from work. She opens the book by describing the sacredness of braiding a piece of the land her community holds in reverence, sweetgrass. I enjoy how she weaves her values into stories relating to everyday experiences. I immediately connected her metaphors to my experiences at Friends Life Community.
We kick off the work week every Monday morning with a standing team meeting. It’s a beautiful circle of individuals. Everyone brings professional expertise, unique skill sets, and different perspectives, yet mutual values and a joint mission connect us. Even in the best of teams, working with people is complex and can create tension among members. Luckily, I believe that strong teams and healthy communities require tension.
“When braiding sweetgrass, a certain amount of tension is needed; you need to pull a bit, of course, you could do it by yourself, but the sweetest way is to have someone else hold the end so that you pull gently against the other, all the while leaning in, head to head, chatting and laughing…”
Any one of us at FLC could accomplish tasks independently and do a pretty good job, but the people we work with get us excited to show up each day. The work is not always easy, but it has never felt like a job. No matter what needs to be accomplished, it’s more fun with the people at FLC. It certainly requires leaning in – everyone’s unique skills and perspectives provide the essential tension for balance and holistic solutions. And there is never a shortage of chatting and laughing at FLC. Sharing these experiences with the team members and Friends makes our days meaningful and valuable.
“Linked by sweetgrass, there’s reciprocity between you…”
Kimmerer uses the imagery of sweetgrass to describe what I have experienced as the value of Friends Life Community. There’s reciprocity among all that are involved. FLC is a weave of three strong strands: Friends and their families, staff members, and community supporters. All are independently important, but when woven together, pulling gently against each other to create the right amount of tension, we are all stronger and mutually benefit from one another.
Tension is not always pleasant, but it is always beautiful. It provides us with the balance and strength needed to work in tandem with others and build something greater than any of us could alone. These experiences and relationships bind us together through reciprocity and respect.
Together, we are extraordinary.