Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Gift of Lois Kelly

In Pearlington, I am known as "Canada Jon." This label wasn’t self-created; in the chaos of the very early days after the storm, it was given to me by a family from Oklahoma, to distinguish me from all the other "Johns" present at that time.

But in some other parts of the world I have a different moniker.

In 1996, when I lived with my daughter in the Soviet Union, I created a children’s program - since used in schools in southern Ontario and elsewhere. It’s called Dream School and it teaches children and adults how to create their life’s Dreams and to rise above the "dream stealers" of the world, who seem to relentlessly call us to much less than that of which we are capable.

The Soviet press once called me "nothing but a big dreamer." They meant it as an insult, but the name stuck and frankly, I revel in it.

Tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m., a group of residents of Pearlington - unbidden, unasked - are banding together to clean the horrible year-long mess that is Lois Kelly’s house. Inspired by Nancy Semple, my on-site Canadian friend who did the casework on this family for Adopt-a-Home, they have asked to remain anonymous, as they reach out selflessly to a hurting fellow resident.

It is a particularly nasty job. Some of the most dangerous spiders in the world live in the mess that was once her back yard and the whole house has shifted 6 inches off its foundation. Herb and Dave Robinson have determined that it is "too risky for his volunteers to be exposed to this stuff. The house is literally being reclaimed by the bayou."

It will take bayou folk to claim it back.

A Dream come true for me. This is how it could be, everywhere in the world, as individuals seize the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others through random acts of kindness. It is what I dreamed could happen, back in the fall when it was necessarily "every man for himself." It’s what many of the volunteers have prayed for - a community involved in new ways with each other as they take the bus of recovery together. It’s what is meant by "not one lamb shall be lost."

Others have been involved: Dave Robinson of PDA and Herb Ritchie of PRC have evaluated the house and helped make some decisions about what can and cannot be done. I am proud of all of them. This is the experiment that is Pearlington’s Recovery. This is how it can be done. This is a model of how a community recovers, without the heavy hand of government, nor the moribund hierarchies of monolithic organizations like the Red Cross. This is citizens in action, doing what has to be done.

This is Unconditional Love in Action.

This is the gift of Dancing with Katrina.

"Big Dreamer"

"Love is the only point of departure for intelligent action."
- Deepak Chopra


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