By Rosemary Feerick
For the past two years, Wisdom & Money has been developing a transformative journey program. Aware that traveling to another culture can be a powerful way to open our minds and hearts, we have been trying to create a journey experience that would inspire people to work to create unity. Our organizational vision describes unity as “communities in which people of all genders, faiths, races, cultures are able to work, celebrate, and worship in their unique particularity together.” Theologically, we are inspired in this pursuit by St. Paul’s vision of Christ’s body (1 Corinthians 12) and by the Jesuit mystic Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s vision of humanity coming together in a way does not collapse difference, but embraces it as essential to the wellbeing of the whole.
Rwanda is a wonderful destination for such a journey because we already have relationships there with Reverend Philbert Kalisa and his ministry of reconciliation and unity called REACH. Steve and Philbert met years ago at a gathering of African and American church leaders and immediately recognized each other as brothers. They developed a friendship thatstarted with prayer and became a partnership in which money served a shared vision. Of course, both were aware that money moving from the United States to African projects is full of potential pitfalls, as philanthropy can easily become a modern expression of colonial power dynamics. They wondered if it was possible to do something different. Was itpossible to talk openly about money and power dynamics and still move forward as friends and partners? For more than ten years, Steve and Philbert have been walking that path together.
In addition, a few years ago Steve invited his Wisdom & Money circle to fund a REACH Unity project. On one ofSteve’s trips to Rwanda, he and Caroline, another member of the Wisdom & Money circle, witnessed thegraduation of a group of women who had been through REACH’s reconciliation process. The women wanted to form a cooperative soap making business as a Unity Group. Steve invited the Boston Circle to make a group gift to REACH as start up funding for that business. The circle did so, and that process was profoundly healing for members of that circle (see John and Helen Daly’s interviews on our website).
Because of these relationships, we decided to explore whether a journey to Rwanda would be an appropriate Wisdom & Money program. In February 2017 and October 2018, we organized two “pilot” journeys to Rwanda. This newsletter shares some of my reflections from those journeys. Our next newsletter will share stories from other participants, including gina Breedlove, Roddy Cardamone, and Steven Bonsey. They will also share thoughts on bringing their learnings about unity back to the United States. We offer these contemplations as invitations to ponder unity. We also share them as an invitation to join us on our next trip to Rwanda in June 2020…
This is an excerpt from Wisdom & Money’s recent Unity Newsletter.
You can download the full Unity Newsletter here.