One of the things I love to do is watch great movies. So, I was delighted to see that Fareed Zakaria, in his most recent book, refers to the movie, “Lawrence of Arabia.” As some of you may recall, Lawrence of Arabia won Best Picture and six other Academy awards in 1962.
The movie tells the story of the British diplomat, T.E. Lawrence, who, during World War I, convinces a group of Arab tribes to unite, to cross an almost impassable desert and to launch a surprise attack on the Ottoman empire.
Zakaria highlights a pivotal scene in which the soldiers are riding across the desert on camelback through blistering heat in a blinding sand storm when they realize that one soldier, Gazim, has fallen off his camel and has been left behind. Lawrence instantly decides to turn back to search for the missing man.
The Commanding Officer objects to Lawrence turning back and another soldier says to Lawrence, “Leave Gazim, his time has come, it has all been written.”
Lawrence snaps back, “The story has NOT all been written.” Then Lawrence turns back and searches through the desert storm for Gazim who he finds disoriented and half dead. Lawrence scoops Gazim up, drapes him over his camel, and carries him to the camp where Gazim receives a hero’s welcome.
Upon Lawrence’s return from rescuing Gazim, the Commanding Officer offers Lawrence a cup of water. Instead of taking a drink to quench his thirst, Lawrence repeats with conviction, “The story has NOT all been written.” Lawrence, in fact, has helped Gazim write a new chapter.
Zakaria’s point is that this time of great suffering in our nation due to COVID-19, civil unrest and division can usher in a time of reform and the creation of more compassionate, just systems. This time of great upheaval in our nation can be a time of writing a whole new chapter.
All the Recovery Cafés that make up the Recovery Café Network refuse to accept that the stories have all been written. All the Recovery Cafe communities insist on circling back– time and time again –and scooping up in their loving arms individuals who have fallen through the cracks of our society. All the Recovery Cafes — by being faithful to their call— are helping write new chapters in which every life is valued as precious and sacred.
All the Recovery Cafes give a hero’s welcome to individuals who might otherwise be left behind or left for dead.
There is a tendency in our larger culture to stigmatize, marginalize and criminalize whole segments of our human family. The Recovery Café Network was founded on the truth that there is a oneness in the human family that we deny at our own peril; that none of us can become all we were created to become when some of us are blocked from and not supported in becoming all they were created to become.
Our growing network is made up of twenty-five Cafés across the US all seeking to close the gap between those who have what they need to thrive and those who do not. This has been the mission of all the Recovery Cafés in the network from the very beginning.
Over the past 9 months, the Recovery Café Network has adopted a 6th core commitment to help us bring an even deeper consciousness and intentionality to the work of ending systemic racism and socio-economic inequality so that every person can thrive.
All 25 Cafés are living out this 6th commitment in unique and creative ways. There is strength and accountability in our naming and sharing this commitment.
Our recent Presidential election has further revealed how divided our nation is. It is an opportunity for our Network of Cafes to become “repairers of the breach.” It is an opportunity for us to reaffirm our commitment to NOT leave ANY group behind.
Recovery Café communities are lighthouses reminding our nation that the love that unites us is more powerful than the differences that divide us. Recovery Cafes throughout our nation and beyond embody the hard, messy, transformative crossing of racial, socioeconomic, religious, and political divides. Building authentic relationships across divides and creating just systems are two sides of the same coin. Grounded in our guiding principles of connecting with divine Love in each other and showing respect for every member of our communities, we are committed to practicing a way of being community and working for systemic change desperately needed for our own healing and the healing of our larger culture.
“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”
―Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German Pastor during World War II
We will help write a whole new chapter in our nation’s history, one life at a time and one Café community at a time.
With profound gratitude for you all- Killian Noe, Founding Director