Beth is the chef and baker at the coffee shop. Even though she is a stranger to me, I feel as though I know her well by way of the food she prepares. I love her cakes - cranberry cardamom and pineapple upside down – and her pecan pies. When I'm trying to resist sweets I stop by the café for a healthy breakfast of an egg in a sweet potato basket.
Everything Beth makes tastes delicious and her smile says that she loves what she does.
I'm reading the latest book from Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness and it's all about true belonging - not just fitting in, pretending or making the people around us comfortable. She writes about the practices that can help us to be with people without sacrificing who we are and what we value.
One of the practices of true belonging as described by Brené relates directly to this project.
Hold Hands. With Strangers.
We're in a spiritual crisis, and the key to building a true belonging practice is maintaining our belief in inextricable human connection. That connection – the spirit that flows between us and every other human in the world – is not something that can be broken; however our belief in the connection is constantly tested and repeatedly severed. When our belief that there's something greater than us, something rooted in love and compassion, breaks, we are more likely to retreat to our bunkers, to hate from afar, to tolerate bullshit, to dehumanize others, and ironically, to stay out of the wilderness.
I make myself vulnerable when I show up and ask to make a portrait.
The risk is absolutely worth the shared joy.
And, it's clear to me that I need this.