When I graduated from college, I received a portfolio and I understood that I was rich. At that point, I had enough Christian formation to know that Jesus talked about economics. I had heard the stories in church from the time I was a child and I had been formed by the Jesuits who talk a lot about justice. And then I had this reality of having money as a young adult. For me, having money was a spiritual question, but I did not know how to work with that. There was no place to talk about that. What I found in Harvest Time and now Wisdom & Money was a space to look at that with friends. There was no other place where I could even have that as a conversation.
And then, in the context of a Harvest Time retreat, the spiritual journey opened up for me – through the doorway of money. On one of my first retreats, in praying with Mary of Bethany, I came to see that my money questions are not about activism or changing the world, but the channeling of a deep love that is the nature of reality. That is what Jesus is pointing to. That’s what I saw on a Harvest Time retreat.
Another thing I saw is that I have a lot of ideals/visions. But paradoxically the way that I get there is by going right into all the places where I am NOT what I want to be. It’s by going right into shadow – the place where I want to hide – that transformation happens. In that sense, money has been a great place for me to practice. It’s paradoxical, but I have learned that I become more free not by trying harder but by welcoming the part of me that is not yet where I want to be – in a circle of love and support.
I’m in this because all these streams in my life come together in this work: Wisdom Christianity, the sense of connection to nature and to people that I experienced growing up in Hawaii, and my hunger for a deep level of spiritual work that is absolutely connected to the liberation needed in this world for justice. My father was an Episcopal priest, and he consistently chose to serve churches in low income immigrant neighborhoods. I loved the music and sharing of food, especially potluck dinners. What separated me was this thing of colonialism and whiteness. The church was very much hand in glove with Plantation Growers and the Military, the primary economic drivers and the ones who monopolized the land. So Christianity means all of that to me.
Whiteness is not in our vision statement but the structures of oppression that invented the concept of whiteness is mixed up in this. I feel in my body how that works against who I really am. I am so grateful for the framework that Be Present, Inc. brings to that conversation in our partnership, and how our collective practices help people work with their whiteness in a way that is not blaming and shaming.
I did inherit from my father and his career an understanding that you know you are being Christian if what you do is serving the poor and excluded. It’s a funny sense to say working with wealthy people is doing that but a lot of what I’ve learned is through my friendships with partners in Africa – one-to-one partnerships – as a funder. I could not be working in the genuine partnership that I believe we have if I did not have Harvest Time. The church could not have taught me what I learned. And it’s all about Jesus. I can be partners with leaders and friends in Africa because we have Jesus in common.
I joined Wisdom & Money in July of 2018, and that included going to a training with Be Present, Inc. I remember getting on the plane and meeting Noa in person for the first time. She handed me Wisdom & Money materials, including the employee policies. I was struck by what I read. I have worked for many wonderful nonprofits in the past and had not experienced one with this level of commitment to exploring what it means to create employee policies that embody the values they hold. I also saw commitment to practice together, which made my heart sing. I was already excited to join this team, and this only deepened that for me.
Since then, I have experienced working in the flow of spirit together. I have been held by my fellow staff and board members, in celebration of my gifts as well as when I am experiencing challenges. I can see how loving and generous of spirit this family is, and how different this is from a typical workplace. The invitation to slow down, to check in, to reach out to spirit and to each other. This has been a profound experience for me.
At Wisdom & Money retreats and board meetings, I feel a deepening in my own practice and a return to some of practices that were part of my mystic nature as a child raised in the Catholic Church. Wisdom & Money, in many ways, has allowed me to return to the parts of Christian practice that have always been a part of me, and that are connected and aligned with to my relationship with the Earth, and my practice as an indigenous healer and medicine woman. The values of gift we hold remind me of the teachings of flow, gift and reciprocity I have been taught by my indigenous elders. The partnership with Be Present, Inc is an important reflection of that for me, and drew me in as well. Deep ancestral healing is happening in this Beloved Community, and I am grateful.