Updated: Aug 4, 2021
Today we honor and remember Barbara Deal, SIA Board Member and my dear mentor, who passed away two years ago this week. (Read my tribute from 2019.) In 2017, she gave an inspiring talk at Winni JFO about service and recognizing the Divine Spark in each person. Listen to the full 45-minute talk online. An excerpt from Barbara's talk is shared here:
Wisdom from Barbara Deal:
One way of pointing to God, that I have just recently been playing with, is to describe God not as a Being, a personality, a Being outside of us, but perhaps as a living, interactive, generative process. We can think of God, perhaps, as a process. God is the process of love in action. God is an interaction with us, and an interaction with all creation; interacting, wooing, and drawing us into fullness, to the fullest expression of our potential.
The most astonishing thing that I have learned in this spiritual journey, is that we are invited, called, and expected to live this love. We are invited to participate in this love, this harmonizing, and this transformation, for the healing of our world.
Barbara Deal, Tanya Cothran, and Naomi Ayot in 2019, visiting SIA-supported businesses in Aboke, Uganda.
Mother Theresa's Advice to Barbara
There is one thing that Mother Theresa said that has haunted me, and challenged me, and inspired me, and I yearn to practice this with you. Jesus challenged those who loved him to see him and serve him in other people.
You remember that Jesus described that in the end it all comes down to service. It all comes down to meeting the needs that are around us. “When I was hungry, you gave me food. When I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink.” And they wondered, like I wonder, like you wonder, “When did we see Christ hungry and give food? When did we see Christ thirsty and give something to drink?” And he said to them, “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these your brothers, your sisters, you have done it for me. When you have helped another, when you have served another, you have helped and served me.” [Matthew 25:35-40]
When I asked Mother Theresa how she could bear to keep on with this work that she had been called to, knowing that the human need in front of her was endless, she said, “Barbara, don’t you see that the one I serve is Christ, in his most distressing disguise.” She took quite literally the words of Jesus, “as you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me.”
Photos from Barbara's Spirit in Action visit to Kenya and Uganda in 2019
[In a time of shared visioning with the Spirit in Action Board], I put into words my yearning that we might more deeply understand what it is we are about in that work, that we could more deeply realize that it is about recognizing and serving Christ in those distressing disguises.
And then I looked around at that group of loving people [of the SIA Board], and I realized more deeply than ever before that we are called to serve Christ not only in the distressing disguises but also in Christ’s most glorious disguises, and all the disguises in between. In other words, we are called to recognize that whatever we do for each other, to each other, we do for Christ, who dwells within each of us.
Thank you for building, co-creating, and serving for a healed world together with Spirit in Action. Read more inspiration from Barbara here.