Every morning around 6:15, I get an email sent to my phone.  It’s a quote from Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche communities and a pretty awesome person.

It’s such a great way to start the day.  This one popped up last week:

Collaboration certainly should find its basis in communion but frequently it does not. We can work together without really caring for each other or being bonded together in love and communion. . . We work together for a common goal. Communion however, is bonding, caring and sharing which flows and finds its fulfillment in celebration.

I bolded the line that stuck with me.  I can’t get that out of my head.

I also follow Al Etmanski on Twitter, and over the past month or so, he’s had a series of guest bloggers opining on the question “What are you skating towards?”

The other day, he had John McKnight (who I’ve learned a lot from) talking about “cooperation.” The next day, he had Delyse Sylvester talking about “collaboration.”   (And I would be remiss if I didn’t point out Mr. Etmanski’s wonderful post about Mr. Vanier from last year.)

So when everyone is talking about collaboration, cooperation and communion within the span of a few weeks, that means the nexus of the universe is telling us something!

It makes me think of what we’ve been learning lately about the importance of families in our work, something Kathy Wenning is helping us understand.    I think about staff, who disregard families (usually in the admirable effort to promote people’s individual rights as an adult) and unintentionally miss out on the power of working together.  I think about families, who say to staff “You’re only in it for a paycheck,” and while sometimes true, is too broad a brush and leads to distance between efforts that would better serve someone if they were stitched together.  I think about leaders who say “You’re being paid, just do the job,” or (even worse) “Keep a professional distance and separate your work and home life.”  They have no idea the damage they’re doing, not only to the efforts to promote inclusion, but to the staff themselves, who are forced to “clock out” their hopes and dreams and desire to be of help to their fellow citizens.  I think of families, philosophers and professionals who give up on the general public to support people, frustrated by neighbors who treat people with disabilities in a childish way, or by employers who give people menial jobs.

I remember times when I’ve been all of those people on all sides of those conversations.  As I step back and look at it, I see the spirit of what Vanier is saying.  We’re all “collaborating” and “cooperating” and working together (supposedly toward the common goal of helping people have good lives), but do we really care about each other?  I imagine that’s more of a rarity than we’d like to admit.  And what does that mean for the people in middle of all of that detached collaboration and cooperation?

I only know a few people who sincerely appreciate everyone in the inclusion equation, no matter what level they arrive at.  It’s difficult to have conversations with colleagues or families who we may perceive as being “behind the times” or “out of touch.”  But we’ve got so much to learn from each other, and none of us hold the answers in isolation.  People are counting on us to get it right…together.  Kathleen showed great patience and tenderness with her story the other day.  That’s the spirit of what I’m talking about.  It has something to do with disappointment, yes, but acceptance and understanding as well.

I guess that’s what I’m skating towards this year…To find more common ground between people who may seem to be in separate camps, but share interests…To figure out what happens when families, staff, and connected citizens care about and celebrate each other.  I think it’s something really cool.

By the way, you can get the quote of the day sent to you by clicking here.