“God, are you the one who is living life?”
The Book of Hours II, 12, Ranier Maria Rilke
There are periods in life when you just know that it is God who is doing the living, and you are fortunate to be tagging along! So it is with me now.
In my late 50s, when the pre-retirement question “What are you going to do with the rest of your life?” filled my waking and sleeping hours, both the urgency of that question, and the inspiration for the answer, came not from me but, clearly, from God.
God’s answer: “GIVE BACK!”
God: ACT with Love in Community.
So for the past five years, I have served as Co-Chair of ClassACT, an initiative I founded with my Harvard-Radcliffe ‘73 classmates, to allow us to work together to create significant positive change. The “ACT” stands for “Achieving Change Together.” Our slogan, which harks back to our Vietnam War, Civil Rights activist, Feminism-filled college days is “It’s not too late to change the world!”
What are we doing?
We established and run The Benazir Bhutto Leadership Program in honor of our assassinated classmate, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. This program‘s mission is the advancement of democracy, women’s rights, education for all, and religious reconciliation in predominantly Muslim countries. It achieves this through providing fellowships to Harvard’s Kennedy School Government for mid-career leaders from predominantly Muslim countries, working with leaders from the region of South Asia, and educating Americans about these cultures and the challenges they face.
In America, we are helping to found an organization dedicated to strengthening STEM education through sports analytics in our own country’s most challenged schools. We have provided targeted assistance to nonprofits working in NOLA, the Bay Area, DC, New York, Maryland, Kenya, Haiti, Ghana, Mexico, and Costa Rica. The range of those organizations’ service includes medicine, music, education, human rights, food, clothing, and criminal justice reform. At present, there are a couple hundred classmates sharing their time and talents in these various endeavors.
This all seems something of a miracle. God’s miracle!
Through this work, I have met the Attorney General of Afghanistan, a champion of women’s rights. I have spent time in the home of a social activist in the Treme neighborhood of NOLA who is changing the lives of the children there. I have listened to former prisoners describe the work they are doing to combat the racism inherent in the US criminal justice system. And, in early December, I met with Malala, whose love for others is changing the world.
What I have learned afresh is that we are all one in God’s love. That love creates community and produces action. And it seems to me that though it may appear that the “Body of Christ” is exclusively Christian, people across the globe live God’s love in, and for, the world. Isn’t that Christ’s Body? I think so, and I am so grateful to be part of it.