By Natalie Bryant-Rizzieri | Founder & Executive Director
The following is an excerpt from our summer newsletter (attached). The Heart of Your Enemy
Bridget Brown and I just returned from a ten-day trip to Armenia. We beheld the fruits of many labors, the work of many hands. We were invited into the family that Warm Hearth has become and held in that sacred space. What an honor that always is, to become family to those with whom you have no blood ties.
As many of you know, we also noticed that Warm Hearth is more isolated than ever before. Our residents are never outside on the streets any longer, playing ball, sitting in the sun, watching people pass on our quiet village road. It has been the slow reversal of a tide, in the wrong direction. And, I know why. It is because the relations with the neighbors are so fraught with tension that our staff want to protect our residents. It is because the neighbors say terrible things and threaten our residents.
But I could not help but grieve at the way in which we have moved backward. The purpose of Warm Hearth is for our residents to have a life in the community and not behind walls. We have spent the last decade trying to reveal the humanity and splendor of our residents. We have spent sweat and tears trying to build bridges for them, but… It is time now to turn toward our neighbors who are also our “enemies.” We must try to understand their vulnerabilities and fears and build bridges to them. We have to see their humanity and find the key that unlocks their hearts. This is our work as a staff, but it also involves the residents. For this, we need bravery. We need strength. We need boldness.
A friend recently sent me a quote: What if the thing you need most is found in the heart of your enemy? While the author is unknown, the task is not. What if the thing we most need to provide a good life for our residents is found in the heart of our neighbors? I believe it is. And, what if the thing our neighbors most need is found in us, in our residents and in our collective vulnerability and humanity?
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Warm Hearth Co-Director
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