September 30, 2014
Every September Harvest Time wraps up one fiscal year and prepares for another. The act of closing out the books and preparing a budget is part of a much deeper reflection I do at this time of year as I release one fiscal year and prepare for the next. In this letter, I want to share some of that reflection with you and also request your continued support for this ministry. As I do so, I keep thinking about words that Brother Bernard spoke in the interview that I shared last month:
“I have learned to ask if I need something…In the beginning I found it very embarrassing. It felt like begging and I did not want to beg…In truth, it is not begging and even if it was there is nothing wrong with it…I am dependent on my community. And it’s only normal that my community should be the place where I ask for the resources that I need….”
You are Harvest Time’s community. As you read what follows I hope you hear me sharing news and asking for your support as part of my celebration of what we are co-creating together. Please do not hesitate to call or email me if you have any questions or want to discuss any of what follows.
Personal Reflection On the Last Year
This past year has been both transformative and exciting. When it began, I was new in my home-office in Redwood City. I felt a bit disoriented as I was adjusting to a new culture. Noa had shifted to consultant, meaning that instead of working in community, I worked alone. I sometimes felt like a “voice in the wilderness.” In spite of these challenges, I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
In the fall, I did quite a bit of writing, settling and preparing. In the midst of transition, I was sustained by weekly visits from Rachel Parikh, a friend and new board member, who came to my home for contemplative prayer. The energy began to shift when I discovered a way to have “hermitage time.” Once a month, I head to a rural section of the coast where I drop into a time of silence, rest and listening. These “hermitage nights” have been a lovely gift as I have shifted from ocean living to a suburban environment, providing a way for me to listen on a deeper level, which is the place from which I strive to live and work.
In January, the programming part of our work picked up. Life has been full since then, as there has been a lot of activity in our programs and doors have been opening. At times, it has felt like I am surfing mavericks (the big wave competition in Half Moon Bay)! As our fiscal year concludes, I am in awe about how much of what we have dreamed and hoped for is manifesting. My intention when I left Half Moon Bay was to move deeper into the world and deeper into wilderness at the same time. It has happened. And it continues to unfold.
Update on Our Programs
Circles of Transformation: In December, a small circle of friends who had journeyed with Harvest Time as part of the Beloved Community and then in a circle called Phoenix Rising discerned that its journey was complete. During a time of reflection and celebration, the circle created and offered “a legacy of learnings” as a gift to future Harvest Time circles. Here is some of what that circle offered:
- The willingness to hang in there with one another, committing to love one another in the midst of messy moments.
- Our commitment to working with “undercurrents” in the room, not ignoring them.
- The power of small money experiments in grace.
- The gift of money flowing from our beloved-ness and personal vision rather than feelings such as obligation, fear, anxiety, “should” and scarcity.
- Playfulness, fun and laughter.
- The practice of Sabbath.
- A willingness to seek reconciliation where that is needed.
- The ability to practice and make honorable transitions, no matter their difficulty.
Currently, four circles meet on a regular basis as part of a long-term transformational journey. Two of these are new circles that formed during the past year. There is one retreat circle on each coast and one circle of women that meets by phone to heal inter-generational dimensions of money, especially dynamics around class and race. A money and faith circle also now meets once a month in my home.
Wisdom and Wealth: In recent years, I have been curious about the intersection of contemplative practice, wisdom theology and money. This flows from my retreats at the New Camaldoli Hermitage and from watching how wisdom teachings and practice have inspired the Boston Circle. Last fall, I issued two invitations that were an early attempt to explore this intersection. Though the invitations evoked heartfelt responses, the logistics proved challenging so the events did not happen. It was not yet time.
Instead, I interviewed Brother Bernard and asked a friend to help me develop this inquiry. In the spring, we were able to put in place a variety of events for the coming fiscal year. In October, two board members and I will be in conversation with some of the monks at the New Camaldoli Hermitage to explore the intersection of Wisdom theology and spirituality and money. In the fall, the Boston Circle will attend together a Wisdom School with Cynthia Bourgeault. That circle will also convene a retreat on Wisdom and Money in the spring. I hope to develop additional opportunities for others to join the conversation and practice. Stay tuned!
Mississippi Land Circle: We continue to be involved in a process to gift a farm in Northern Mississippi to a non-profit that hopes to create a retreat center on the land. As the Memorandum of Understanding that guides this process states, “The process used to transfer the Land embodies a paradigm grounded in partnership where we seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance as the Giver and Gifted work collaboratively to support the emergence of the full dream for this Promised Land.” This year we will share in writing what we have been learning and invite support to complete the gifting process.
Reflections on Money and Faith: Several times a year, we offer reflections on money and faith through email and printed mailings. Last year, we updated our mailing list by removing people who were no longer interested in receiving our materials. This year we will seek to widen the circle of friends who read our reflections.
Spiritual Companionship: I meet with individuals/couples on an on-request basis to reflect on their experience of God’s presence and the specific questions, issues, and challenges that emerge when we attempt to align money with our faith.
In Partnership With Other Organizations: One way we are trying to share Harvest Time’s wisdom with more people is by partnering with other organizations. Last year I worked with Criterion’s 1K Churches project to help them develop their Bible Study on money and faith. This year, one of our board members and I are participating in conversations hosted by Bolder Giving. We respond to other opportunities to collaborate with aligned organizations as they emerge and as time allows.
Opening Conversations in San Francisco Bay Area: My recent move to Silicon Valley has made it much easier for me to develop relationships with local Christian communities, social change leaders and individuals who are interested in exploring the intersection of money and faith. John Bloom, one of our board members, and I also recently convened a conversation at SoCap14 in San Francisco on “What does Spirit have to do with Finance?” We hope to continue the conversation in other contexts.
Update on the Organization
At the turn of the calendar year, Harvest Time received a $100,000 gift to help us bring more people into our circles. Our Board of Directors spent the spring and summer discerning the best use of this gift. One of the questions we wrestle with is whether to try to take what we do to “scale.” This is a tricky question for us because although “going to scale” can be a mark of success for many organizations, we recognize that what happens at Harvest Time occurs best in the context of small circles of friends that are committed to learning spiritual practices that can help shift our core relationship with money. We see this as a long-term process that is best supported by facilitators trained in transformative spiritual practice and thus not easily packaged.
As we were working with these questions at a recent board meeting, we became clear that the best way for us to invite new people to our circles right now is by focusing on going Deeper in a Particular Place. Doors have opened for us in Silicon Valley and we believe that we are called to develop relationships right here. We also see that there are dimensions of our work where we are holding a unique piece of the conversation about money and Christian faith. Right now, that involves deepening the exploration into wisdom and money and continuing to explore ways to build partnerships across traditional social difference.
The Board also discerned that it is time to create a California Charitable Corporation to carry the work of this ministry into the future. The reasons for this decision are varied and beyond the scope of this summary (though feel free to call me and ask if you are interested). Our hope is to simplify our operations and build a solid foundation for the future.
The capacity building gift that we received at the turn of the year not only sparked deep dialogue about the nature of our work but also inspired one of our circles to step into a three year collective gifting experiment to support the movement they see happening in Harvest Time. The capacity building gift combined with that circle’s three-year commitment allowed us to re-hire Noa as part-time staff last May.
We are still working to build the community that supports this ministry in an ongoing way. During the fiscal year that ends today, the gifts that flowed from our community to support our current programs totaled $148,500. Those gifts came from 22 households and ranged from $10 to $50,000. We also received the aforementioned capacity building gift of $100,000.
Gifts in Receiving
There is something very powerful for me in receiving all these gifts that are sent to Harvest Time. Each one underscores the reality that everything that we do is made possible by the generosity of community. I appreciate gifts that come with a lot of zeroes because they allow me to focus my time on our retreats and opening conversations about wealth and faith. Smaller gifts are wonderful, too, because they carry blessing and convey the breadth of the community offers this ministry.
I have also been noticing how much I enjoy receiving monthly gifts. During the past year, three women decided to make monthly gifts to Harvest Time. Their gifts range in size from $5 to $400. In the context of a monthly budget that averages $14,583 some might see these gifts as unimportant. That’s not how it feels on my end. I love these gifts. Whenever I receive gifts, they feel like a stream of blessing flowing toward this ministry. What a delight to receive that every month!
Request for Support For Coming Year
Our board has just approved a budget of $175,000 for the coming fiscal year. This is the amount of money that sustains our current circles and programs. The work of creating a new charitable corporation in California and finding effective ways to communicate with and invite people to join this network will be funded by the capacity building gift that we received. I invite you to offer a gift to help us offer retreats, written reflections, and other forms of spiritual companionship.
I extend a special invitation to people who might be tempted to believe that because their gifts do not contain many zeroes, they do not matter much to us. They do. Every gift that comes our way conveys blessing and gives us a sense of the breadth of the community that cares about this ministry. That is especially important because more and more we are seeing this ministry as a gift that flows from community.
Finally, if you would like to make a gift, here is how you can do so. As you know, the moment of making a gift is a wonderful opportunity to be in reflection about money. Toward that end, here is a response form that invites you to pay attention to what is happening in you as you make a gift.
Thank you once again for joining me in offering Harvest Time’s ministry.