Sparks of Gratitude

Sparks of Gratitude

written by Kira Lynne Allen

The invitation to the October Eighth BK Leadership Exchange that stands out in my mind said, “Be.Share.Nourish. An Intergenerational Gathering to Build Resilient Leaders . . . This is a space to meet like-minded people who care about the intersections of leadership, social justice, community and personal well-being. . . . you are invited to contribute your wisdom and curiosity.” As a poet who wants to touch people’s hearts more than their minds, everything about the description appeals to me and the day more than lived up to its goals. Our intergenerational design team: Kerline, Kim, Claude, Antonia, Todd, and Amanda, poured their hearts into each activity. From examining how we begin to see past stereotypes to nourishing both our bodies and our minds over a sacred lunch, each of us were led to add to the day in our own way.

One of the strengths I bring to leadership is vulnerability; after all how do you ask people to pull back the veil if you are not willing do it yourself. Still, sometimes being really real in a room full of strangers is much easier said than done; and yet during our time together, it feels effortless — even when it’s embarrassing. You see, somewhere between the anxiety and the absence of basic decorum of our very contentious presidential election, the grief of multiple collective/personal/planetary losses this year and the internal demon that says, not good enough, not smart enough, not strong enough to actually do anything about it all, I’m almost agoraphobic. Participating in the BK Leadership Exchange was my way of pushing through my fear to be amongst a community that can and in fact does restore my hope that there are REAL people, willing to do the work to make this world a better place.

People like Kim Clark, who taught us about how she’s marrying Critical Race Theory (outward social criticism at the intersection of identities) and spirituality (inward contemplation of what’s working) to completely shift the paradigm of social transformation. This is my shorthand version of a complex presentation that I didn’t want to end, so much so that I think should be it’s own PhD program somewhere, and if its all I got out of the day, I’d be richer for it, but I got so much more. I’m so grateful to be engaging with fellow participants, who brought brilliance, innovation, collaboration and compassion to every activity. After only six hours together I want to know how Mansi and Penny and Oscar are doing; I want to break bread again with Yi and walk the lake with Simma because I want to feel the nourishing, soul-stirring growth that comes from being together and sharing the weight of the world in order to know there are so many more possibilities than hate and hopelessness. I shared this poem at the end of the day and I want to share it again as a reminder to us all that our resiliency lies in remembering we are never alone.

Just go head n sparkle sistas
Shinin’ light on this foggy night
Don’t you go nowhere sistas
without knowin’ your posse got your back
Cause thinkin’ you alone
same as thinkin’ you dead
You gotta see ain’t no sucha thing as alone
we all in this here together
So go on ahead n shine sistas
your words be signal to the next
Cause someone else need your light
to make it home alive tonight
n just like Harriet Tubman say
We gotta Move or Die
So even when you feelin’ mighty low
n it seem like someone done stole your voice
Just go head n speak sistas
cause the poetry what flow help us all to know
We be bold beautiful sistas
n we be the sparks that burn down the house of hate

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