I was away in Connecticut this week– that southern New England state that divides its loyalties between the Red Sox and the Yankees. I was born in New York State and have even watched the Yankees play in their old stadium, but I have spent many more years living in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts and there is no doubt where my allegiance lies.
I’ve been thinking about faithfulness. I’m not talking about fidelity in love (a trait that appears as elusive as a Red Sox World Series), but about steadfastness to a cause and devotion to our colleagues and friends. I work for an international nonprofit organization that was founded nearly 100 years ago. This week, I interviewed a 20-something-year-old man who has been attending (or leading) youth leadership workshops with the organization since he was 12. He told me that the values that underlie the work are what keep him coming back– a belief in the inherent worth of every individual and the transformational power of love.
While in Connecticut, I met my boss at the New London train station and we traveled together to visit a couple, now in their 80s, who have been loyal supporters of the organization for 50 or 60 years. I’ve been working for the place for over 17 years and my boss, a woman who is a few years older than me, has been there for 22… except now she’s leaving. She was offered an opportunity that will allow her to grow and stretch in new ways and though I’m happy for her, I feel a great deal of sadness watching her prepare to leave.
She is a rare breed. There is a poem I came across recently called “For the Love of the World” by Charlotte Tall Mountain. I could use the inspiration of those lines to describe what I treasure about working for this woman: “For the love of the community, she mended fences. For the love of the possibilities, she let her light shine. For the love of spirit, she nurtured our souls…”
I could write about how she believed in my abilities, or was there when I needed her, how she valued team-work and building bridges, how she could both listen and take a stand, how she managed to laugh when she was hurting inside, how she carried on so that all of us who worked for her could do the same, never forgetting the importance of our constituents and our mission focused on strengthening peace while supporting human dignity. But aside from those accolades, let me ask this: how many bosses have you spent the night with in a quaint bed and breakfast, propped up against mounds of pillows in the same bed with a bottle of red wine and squares of caramel-filled chocolate between you as you talk about memories from the past and dreams for the future? She is more than a boss, she is a dear friend.
I will miss her in ways I can only begin to imagine.
For Love of the World by Charlotte Tall Mountain For the love of a tree, she went out on a limb. For the love of the sea, she rocked the boat. For the love of the earth, she dug deeper. For the love of community, she mended fences. For the love of the stars, she let her light shine. For the love of spirit, she nurtured her soul. For the love of a good time, she sowed seeds of happiness. For the love of the Goddess, she drew down the Moon. For the love of nature, she made compost. For the love of a good meal, she gave thanks. For the love of family, she reconciled differences. For the love of creativity, she entertained new possibilities. For the love of her enemies, she suspended judgment. For the love of herself, she acknowledged her worth. And the world was richer for her.