It’s easy to start feeling unworthy and that I haven’t done enough when I remember Calvin and Nelia Kimbrough, founders of the Patchwork Central Ministry in Evansville, Indiana.
When I think of them, I think of people who have been willing to do what their hearts want, to be clear on a mission and live it out, to be proud of what they do and how they do it to carry it out for decades, for their entire life time.
I know them from two places where they have done the same thing for decades, create rituals and celebrations, create art and photos and take a stand for poor people.
When I think of Calvin and Nelia, I think of people who work fervently, believing in the small daily steps of their mission, yet perhaps overall that theirs is an impossible goal. They WILL remain disenfranchised and victimized. The poor will remain poor and the downtrodden will continue to be downtrodden. They have little power to affect the system except for a few individual people.
On the surface, I am grateful to Calvin and Nelia for their gifts of song and art, leadership and genuine graciousness. The happy memories of beautifully uplifting rituals they created at Patchwork Central, a Christian ministry in Evansville, Indiana, light my heart. Nelia created a blessingway for our third child, Simon, who was born just a few months after we had arrived in our new Evansville home. We were welcomed right away into the community and Simon’s name was fitting for a member of that community. A dozen or so community members came over to our house, created a little book of blessings, read poems and sang songs. Of course, we shared food as well! The Patchwork Community was exemplary at sharing food!
Still, after a few years of community membership, we felt that we didn’t quite fit in. We got the idea that our children were not quite as welcome as we had thought, especially since they were among just a handful in the group. Eventually, we left the community, again with a tender ritual created by Nelia, realizing that there was something else we wanted more. In particular, it was connection with trails and camping on the weekends. We had found ourselves participating less and less in the projects going on, and more on our own exploring the backcountry of Southern Illinois in Bell Smith Springs.
Looking back through my Radical Forgiveness lens, I see that my relationship with Calvin and Nelia was giving me a chance to love a part of me that I was repressing – that part of me that wanted control, and the part of me that was scared to commit to leadership and formation of rituals and family education that truly expressed my convictions. I couldn’t do that, and I was jealous of them!
Step 10 in the Radical Forgiveness Worksheet says:
“I now realize that I get upset when someone resonates in me, something I have denied, repressed and projected onto them. I now see the truth in the adage, “If You Spot It, You Got It!” This person is reflecting what I need to love and accept in myself. I am now willing to take back the projection and own it as part of my shadow. I love and accept this part of me.”
Now, I can thank them for giving me this opportunity to feel this and to give me a chance to be fully human! I’m willing to love myself having those judgments and honor Calvin and Nelia for helping me grow!