Modern “Faith” Based Organizations: Creative Mornings

Maybe the modern “faith” based organization can go beyond traditional religious frameworks, I asked myself last Friday morning while I was walking to work after Creative Mornings. I want to unpack what it means to have “faith.”

Background:

Creative Mornings is now an international organization built on small localized groups who agree to host free events on Friday mornings before work in their communities. There is normally a theme, one keynote speaker, and sometimes a musician opener and a handful of 30 second pitches from the community. The audience signs up a few days before the event and joins together for breakfast and conversation before the hour-long live event.

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The audience here in New York is very creative: the usual attendees are researchers, artists, strategists, developers, and students. It is also one of the warmest audiences I’ve ever seen in New York, because it’s an audience that is excited and ready to get up early and explore challenging themes like Risk, Love, Freedom, Ethics, Sex, and Revolution.

What does it mean to have “faith?”

I am very much struggling with this question. If “Faith” is tied to specific organized religions, and I find myself outside of those communities right now, can I explore “faith” more broadly?

For now, I am working with this definition: maybe “faith” can be about hope, and designing for the people and world I hope we can become, that I know we have inside of us when we feel safe and loved. Maybe finding “faith” can be about spending time in communities that share my values and want to work towards a more inclusive, generous, and peaceful world. Let’s start with this as an option.

Creative Mornings introduced me to some new tools and questions about “faith.” 

In June, I went to a Creative Mornings event while in a daze after the Brexit was announced, and it helped me find some direction: instead of mourning what we were losing, I was going to celebrate and support the creators. Michaela Angela Davis asked really challenging questions about race and activism in the United States.

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She also taught us about what it means to think strategically and do the hard things when we need to act. This event set me on a new track to manage my media intake (specifically, on the election and the terror that Trump’s campaign embodies) and it taught me to think more strategically about how I want to participate.

Last week, we explored Love with someone who is very much still healing from her experience losing a child/loved one. Maggie Doyne is known for her work building the next generation of a home for children without families. She shared her very personal journey with grief and finding a way back to her work, and she reminded us, “love is the hardest thing, but it is the only thing that heals us.” To love is a choice, to keep your heart open is a choice.

I've been listen non-stop to Amy Vachal since she opened for the July Creative Mornings.
I’ve been listen non-stop to Amy Vachal since she opened for Maggie Doyne at the July Creative Mornings/NY.

That afternoon, I posted “On this day, and every day, Love will win. The darkness cannot take my mind (so I’ll keep learning). It cannot take my joy (so I’ll keep playing). It cannot take my heart, so I’ll keep loving). Love will win. Today and every day.” I received so many letters of love from my friends and mentors. I could create and be part of the community that I thought I was looking for, but really had created around me. I needed this reminder, though I hope one day I will stop questioning it.

I’ll keep coming to Creative Mornings, because it offers a new question to grow into each month. 

This experience, like so many others, depends on what you put into it and how open to the experience you’re willing to be. I appreciate that it helps me explore “faith” and my values each month, and it provides beautiful moments to remind us we’re less alone than we think we are.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I’ve noticed a real desire within my friends/neighbors for a community that discusses ethics and shares values like promoting equal opportunity and values local volunteer work. It started, more loosely, last summer while I was exploring creative communities. In these posts, I am exploring what people are creating in these communities and trying to figure out where I can fit in, support, and keep learning. 

Celebrating the creators.

I stayed up late to read the Brexit results and commentary last night. In the last few weeks, the media has been filled with heart break after heart break, and our politics seem to be filled with people who only want to destroy and move backwards. But we cannot let them win. We may grieve, but we must give our attention, love and joy to those who create.

The real leaders, the brave ones, are those that create, not destroy. Let’s celebrate the creators. 

I got up early and went to creative mornings in Gowanus. The theme was appropriately “Broken,” and the speaker Michaela Angela Davis was the perfect person to speak this morning. She talked about race in the United States, and the terrorism of Jim Crow, but she ended on an important high note. There was time for us to heal together.

She said her grandmother, who grew up during a time when lynchings were common and she had to survive. “This was life.” Davis explained, her grandmother did not have time to process her feelings because survival meant defying what was expecting and fighting the power.

Her mother was part of the civil rights movement, fighting the power. “This was liberty.” Each generation building on the next. They were creating a new world together.

“And I am pursuing happiness like it is a revolution.” Davis is creating the world she wants to live in, and creating a world for her daughter to survive, be free, and thrive in. This is what it means to create.

Most importantly, Davis reminded us all that we cannot take on the grief and sadness of our ancestors. They suffered to create a better world, if we take on their suffering we have not fully accepted and lived the world they fought to create. We can take on their pride, but we must keep fighting and celebrating growth to move forward.

I needed to hear all of this this morning. The room was filled with laughter and sorrow but most importantly people who came together because we want to create, not destroy. I want to celebrate these kindnesses and give them my love and attention so we can grow.

Because it’s always easy to leave, but harder and more rewarding to stay and grow together. So let’s grow. Let’s love.