On this, the 7th day of Kwanzaa, as we celebrate the principle of Imani, my heart is heavy with grief, but more deeply assured of the purpose of The Healing Garden. Some of you may have heard the story of the quadruple homicide in Troy, New York where a woman and her two children were found dead, murdered early last week. That woman was my sister, those children my niece and nephew. Many people have asked “how could someone commit such a monstrous crime?” I have sat in silence, thinking about what this tragic event means for our work at The Healing Garden. I write the following after solemn reflection on the closing of this past year. I have sat in silence, thinking about what this tragic event means for our work at The Healing Garden
The Healing Garden is based in the Nguzo Saba (Seven Principles) of Kwanzaa. I planned to share a post on each of the seven days of Kwanzaa, but received the news of the horrific taking of my family on the first day – Unity. The mission and values embodied in each of the principles are part of the driving force behind our 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We are an organization committed to creating a culture of wellness in our community that works to combat the type of sickness that breeds the terror my family experienced.
Umoja (Unity): The Healing Garden (THG) is a collective of healers who have come together to foster community-based learning, at times in the form of open forum discussions. In this way, we are promoting the principle of Umoja. When we are able to see that we are connected and to do harm to another is to do harm to our own self, such acts of violence will be a rarity. When we are able to see that we are connected and to do harm to another is to do harm to our own self, such acts of violence will be a rarity.
Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): In our efforts to fulfill our mission at THG, we help our clients and patients to nurture their own healing potential. We teach them to listen to their bodies and trust the wisdom stored within. We are determined to improve ourselves and our communities. When we see the reflection of ourselves in each other, recognizing that the spirit or energy that animates each of us is the same as that which brings life to all living things, we can understand that to see our brother/sister is to see ourselves. In this way, to improve our community is to improve ourselves.
Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): We each have a responsibility to uplift one another, OUR collective work provides the foundation of our collective greatness. Conversely, our neglect of others can be to our own detriment. The work we are doing at The Healing Garden is community work, it cannot and should not be done alone. We are accountable in our work to ourselves, to one another, and to the community we serve. Likewise, for the vision of THG to be realized, there is a high level of expectation for community members who join us in furthering our mission. recognizing that the spirit or energy that animates each of us is the same as that which brings life to all living things, we can understand that to see our brother/sister is to see ourselves
Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): Our wealth truly lies in our health. Without it we cannot enjoy this world or the life we build within it. We (THG) are fostering an environment where the entire community is investing in our health and the health of future generations by preserving ancestral knowledge and ways. While, at the same time, drawing from that investment by following a model in which there are “no spectators” so to speak. Each of us must be involved in our own healing, growth, and education. All of the services and programming at THG require client/patient participation. Active participation in self-care and healing increases self-confidence, and decreases vulnerability. Each of us must be involved in our own healing, growth, and education.
Nia (Purpose): For eons, human beings have pondered our reason for Being. While we may lack understanding of the greater purpose, having direction towards a purpose filled life adds meaning and value to our existence. At The Healing Garden, our purpose is clear. We exist to create a culture of health in communities of color. We want to see the Black community thriving and we have a plan in place to work towards our goal as a collective unit.
Kuumba (Creativity): We cannot solve problems with the same mindset that created them. This thought was shared by Albert Einstein. We must remember that we were a people of vibrant health and strong will. We must return to our own ancestral ways if we want to improve our condition. Many atrocities are performed out of anger, guilt, fear, or pain. We live in a society where too often, there is no time or space made for resolving these emotions until they result in tragedy. The Healing Garden recognizes the need for mental and emotional support and includes creative outlets for addressing these areas in ways that hearken back to the ways of our ancestors – using art, movement, and storytelling. We live in a society where too often, there is no time or space made for resolving these emotions until they result in tragedy.
Imani (Faith): We must believe in ourselves and in the power of our own talents. We can and will create a culture in which we are thriving – happy, healthy, and prosperous – and living the principles of the Nguzo Saba 365 days of each year. If we each live in acceptance of them, and commit to cultivating and expressing them to all who we encounter, change will come quickly and powerfully. The mission of The Healing Garden lies in these seven principles, so what does it mean to see the vision realized? It means that senseless acts of violence and rage, like the slaughter of my sister and her two young children, will not occur in or be committed by our community members. Imagine how many families will be spared the grief and trauma of violence when we begin the work of healing and repairing wounded individuals in our community.
People, when connected to a community and given a purpose, when supported and conditioned to think creatively, realize that they are not alone and are healthier. When people are in good physical, social, emotional, and spiritual health, they are HAPPY! Happy and Healthy people are not likely to harm others. They are not easily corrupted by the twisted values of a society where money, collateral, and capital are driving forces because our purpose lies beyond the tangible.
In memory of my sister, I challenge you to identify your purpose and create a vision of how you will work towards it in 2018. If you accept this challenge, create a vision board for 2018 to be shared at our January 20th event, Winter Blossoms: The Healing Garden Grande Opening. People who are not in Colorado or otherwise unable to attend, can send a digital version of their board to be shared at the event.