Time, Love and Secret Sauce

January 24, 2014 7 Comments

Lens of Love

When we at IISC look at problem or an opportunity, we look at it through the lens of love.  This doesn’t mean we approach the world with rose-colored glasses: it means that we focus on the transcendent possibilities that are apparent when we hold every person in unconditional high regard.

For some people, looking through the lens of love focuses their vision on the spirit of open-heartedness that brings folks together to make social change. This focus allows them to expect, call forth and experience the good intentions, hospitality and generosity of others.

For others, this lens brings into focus “the love that does justice.” It keeps their eye on the prize, so that advocacy for equity and inclusion is driven, not by dogma, but by expressions of deep respect, relationship and regard for each other.

But sometimes, I feel not-quite-transcendent enough for these kinds of love.  The kind of love I know best is a little less lofty:  like a poem, it begins in the body, and is something made by hand. So I was excited when Colorlines introduced me to a kindred spirit in the poet Gyasi Ross, author of How To Say I Love You In Indian. He writes:

One of the stories in the book is about stew and how it’s representative of love for a lot of poor people, and Indian people specifically. We always had the worst cuts of meat and the worst ingredients, but through those ingredients, time, love and secret sauce, it turned into a beautiful stew. That’s what the title of the book is all about: physical manifestations of love.

When I look at an organization’s culture through the lens of love, what I see is a co-worker racing to pick up his daughter from daycare but still pausing to give a colleague five minutes of his undivided attention. Love leads an all-day meeting, then stays afterward to wipe the tables and put away the chairs, unseen and unthanked.  When I look at an understaffed, underfunded organization trying to strategize through the lens of love, I can count the times when a leader’s ungentle “no” to a dozen really good ideas was actually the voice of love’s discipline in action, waiting to say a meaningful “yes.”

Love, then, is not some warm and fuzzy feeling: it is the act of seeing differently those who perform  “love’s austere and lonely offices” and calling them by name.  When I look through the lens of love I witness the hands making the “secret sauce” that transforms our humble leftovers into a deep and nourishing stew.


  • Cynthia Silva Parker says:

    Thanks Mistinguette. This is a beautiful description of both the lofty and the every-day dimensions of love in action. Here are a few more examples I’ve seen of late… In a meeting about an organizational decision that will affect people in another organization, the question is raised “How will this affect them?” “How will we weigh that alongside our own interests?” When colleagues miss an important gathering, making sure that someone (or a few someones) reach out to give them a sense of what happened, beyond what they could read in the notes, and how their presence was missed. And simply stopping to ask “How are you, really?” before diving into the work at hand.

    Check out this emergent poem about love, created by the staff a couple of years ago. https://interactioninstitute.org/blog/2011/10/17/love/

  • Curtis Ogden says:

    Beautiful, Mistinguette. Thank you. I keep two quotes in mind when I hear the word “love” and connect it to our work. One is from Humberto Maturana who said that “love is respecting the other as a legitimate other.” The other is from a senior physician and surgeon who, during a training I was conducting and a conversation about love, said it was “key” to his success and came down to letting others know that they are “really and fundamentally seen.”

  • GibranX says:

    Beautiful and on point Mistinguette – thank you! There is a somatic approach to this practice as well. I’m keen on the practice of focusing my energy on my heart center and on intentionally feeling it expand. There is a spaciousness in this expansion, it negates feelings of scarcity and it yields the ability to take the time.

  • Glenn Johnson says:

    I loved the idea of saying no as an act of love.

  • Melinda Weekes says:

    Love-ly, Mistinguette! Thanks for the Colorlines.com nod — even better to hyperlink it! ;))) #HowWeDo #SpreadTheLove

    • MistinguetteS says:

      Not sure how that link got lost – will make sure it gets added! And thanks for the intro to Gyasi Ross’ work.

  • Jen Willsea says:

    Right on!

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